CHESTNUT HILL, Mass.– The Owls (4-5, 1-4 Big East) controlled their own destiny going into last Saturday’s game against Boston College (6-3, 3-3).
A win would have made a trip to a bowl game, their first since 1979, a lot easier. A win would have given them a 5-4 record and put them one win short of bowl eligibility.
But the Temple team that showed up in the 31-3 loss to Boston College was a team far from a bowl game, a team resembling the Temple of years past.
The Owl knocked out the Eagles’ starting quarterback, Tim Hasselbeck, with a sprained knee in the second quarter. But Temple’s defense, which had been the strongest facet of the team, collapsed. Backup quarterback Brian St. Pierre threw for 155 yards against a confused-looking Temple pass defense.
The run defense, coming into the game as one of the best in the Big East, allowed Boston College’s William Green to rush for 91 yards and a touchdown.
The Owls’ secondary allowed receiver Dedrick Dewalt to catch six passes for 83 yards and Jamal Burke five passes for 74 yards.
Then on offense, as Boston College was running up the score board, Temple couldn’t move the football.
The Eagles have the top pass defense in the conference but one of the worst run defenses. After quarterback Devin Scott proved he couldn’t move the ball on the Eagles and left the game with a sore jaw, Mike Frost came in was just as ineffective.
Frost threw two interceptions and completed only five passes for 84 yards.
Green and Temple’s Tanardo Sharps came into the game neck-and-neck for the lead in rushing yardage in the Big East. Sharps was largely held in check by the BC defense and picked up only 70 yards on the ground.
Temple gained 218 yards overall, compared to the Eagles’ 427 yards.
“They had a good defense,” receiver Greg Muckerson said. “We just didn’t execute. I think Temple just didn’t show up today.”
Temple showed up, but it wasn’t the same Temple that had been playing this season. It wasn’t the Temple team that was blown out by Miami or Virginia: that team played as well as it possibly could have. This was a Temple team that looked like the inconsistent team of most of the 90’s, a team with a 7-24-2 series record against Boston College.
“(It’s) probably the most disappointed I’ve been in our football team in a long time,” coach Bobby Wallace said. “We didn’t move the football, turnovers hurt us and we didn’t (stop them).”
After Temple punted away its opening possession, Boston College drove 80 yards on nine plays. Hasselbeck capped the drive, which included a 15-yard personal foul call against Temple, with a 30-yard touchdown run.
Sharps fumbled the football on the ensuing drive for the Owls and the Eagles scored again. Hasselbeck threw a 28-yard pass to Burke — who made a one handed catch, bobbling the ball as he came down — to start the drive.
Burke caught another pass, for 11 yards, and Green took the ball into the end zone with two runs of four yards and a 30-yard touchdown run. It was the 13th touchdown run of the season for the Big East’s leading rusher and it gave the Eagles a 14-0 lead.
After a horrible punt by Temple’s Garvin Ringwelski, Boston College again rumbled into the end zone in seven plays encompassing 65 yards.
Hasselbeck passed the ball to a wide, wide, wide-open Green for a 33-yard touchdown. It was Green’s first touchdown reception of his career and the easiest catch he’ll ever have to make.
Green was open and blew by Temple’s confused coverage. The separation between him and any defenders was as big as the Eagles’ victory — it was huge.
“Missed assignment, you can’t have them in Division I football,” linebacker LeVar Talley said. “You can’t make those types of mistakes.”
“It’s ridiculous, we (couldn’t) get on assignments all day long,” Wallace said.
Scott then threw an interception, but the teams traded punts. With time dwindling in the first half, Scott was hit hard after a play and Boston College was called for roughing the passer.
The 15-yard penalty was no consolation for the loss of Scott. Frost came in and immediately threw an interception on his first play from scrimmage.
Temple’s defense set up its only points of the day when Jamal Wallace intercepted a St. Pierre pass. He returned the ball 45 yards to the six-yard line.
Six yards from a touchdown, Sharps attempted to run into the end zone but he was turned away twice. Frost then tripped coming out from under center on third down. Temple had to settle for a 21-yard Cap Poklemba field goal. The three points were the entirety of the Owls’ offensive output in the game.
“We just went in there too cocky,” Talley said. “We looked past the Miami game, our focus the last two weeks was Boston College. We were expecting to dominate and we didn’t.”
St. Pierre threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dewalt, who blew by Wallace’s coverage to make the score 28-3. Boston College finalized the score with a 37-yard field goal by Mike Sutphin.
The Owls were expecting to play sound football after a having two weeks to prepare. But, according to Wallace, those two weeks did more to hurt the team than help.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” Wallace said. “I thought it would help them mentally. Evidently, I didn’t do a proper job getting them ready.”
Temple will look to keep its bowl hopes alive this Saturday when the Owls host Syracuse at Veterans Stadium. If Temple beats Syracuse and Pittsburgh, dreams of a bowl could still possibly come true. If not, the team’s final record might make some think this year’s team was the same old Temple.