Sports

Chance to clinch at home

The football team can clinch the MAC East with a win versus Kent State and an Ohio loss.

The football team can clinch the MAC East with a win versus Kent State and an Ohio loss.

Thanks to 49 unanswered points in Friday’s 56–17 win against Akron, the football team has won eight games in a row. The Owls are now 8–2 on the season, and their eight-game winning streak matches the most wins in a row by Temple football since 1979, the last time the Owls made it to a bowl game.

Behind four touchdowns from redshirt sophomore quarterback Chester Stewart and freshman running back Bernard Pierce’s record-tying 15th touchdown of the season, the Owls kept their winning streak alive. Next up for the Owls is Kent State Saturday afternoon in the final home game of the season.

Here are three things to watch from each team:

Temple
Chance to clinch: It looked like the Owls’ impressive seven-game winning streak would come to an end Friday night in Akron. But the Owls showed their fans why 2009 is a different season, coming back from a 17–7 first-quarter deficit to beat the Zips, 56–17. It was the second game in a row the Owls found themselves in position to lose for the first time since the Penn State game back in mid-September. Riding an eight-game winning streak, Temple has a chance to clinch the Mid-American Conference East Division Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field against Kent State if Ohio loses to Northern Illinois and the Owls win.

Didn’t see that coming: Coach Al Golden made it very clear when he switched to Stewart that he wanted a quarterback who would manage the clock and avoid turnovers. Stewart went above and beyond Friday night by completing 6 of 11 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. He added two more touchdowns on the ground. Stewart will look for an encore performance against Kent State’s defense, which ranks 10th in the MAC and allows 232 passing yards per game.

Senior Day: Come honor the Owls’ seniors who spent four years working hard to turn this program around. Defensive tackle Andre Neblett, linebacker Alex Joseph, cornerback Dominique Harris and tight end Steve Maneri highlight Golden’s first recruiting class at Temple.

Kent State
In need of a win: Kent State enters Saturday’s game with the Owls in search of a must-win. Under sixth-year coach Doug Martin, the Golden Flashes have won three of their last four games, but last week’s 28–20 loss to Akron dropped them to 4–2 in the MAC – two games behind the Owls with two games remaining.

Déjà vu all over again: Another week, another freshman quarterback. Quarterback Spencer Keith will go up against a Temple defense that allowed just 99 yards through the air Friday night at Akron. Keith has started six of the Golden Flashes’ 10 games this season and has thrown for 1,915 yards with 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His passer rating (127 percent) and passing yards per game (213) rank fifth and seventh in the MAC, respectively.

A force to be reckoned with: After posting eight sacks in his first two seasons at Kent State, junior defensive end Monte Simmons is close to surpassing that number this season alone. Simmons has 7.5 sacks in 10 games, which ranks second in the MAC, and has posted 11.5 tackles for loss (three) and forced three fumbles. Simmons will look to get into the backfield and attempt to force a few mistakes from Stewart.

Pete Dorchak can be reached at pdorchak@temple.edu.

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