It wasn’t the prettiest way to finish the season, but the football team will take it.
Behind a stout defense effort and some timely scoring drives, the Owls downed Akron, 27-6, Friday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field.
Locked in a 6-6 game in the fourth quarter, redshirt senior quarterback Adam DiMichele completed a 50-yard strike down the middle of the field to junior wide receiver Jason Harper. On the very next play, DiMichele dove over the corner of the endzone for a 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Owls the lead for good.
Temple finished its season 5-7, 4-4 in the Mid-American Conference, an overall one game improvement from last season.
“It wasn’t easy,” coach Al Golden said of the win. “[Akron]’s a good team. That’s a good veteran team there. They’ve got some guys that are going to play in the NFL…that was a good win for us. That’s what pleased me the most.”
DiMichele finished with 220 passing yards and 57 rushing yards, including two rushing touchdowns.
The Owls’ dominance of the contest was especially evident at the end of the game, as they outscored the Zips 21-3 in the fourth quarter.
“I don’t want to come off too arrogant, but we kind of took their heart,” DiMichele said. “We were just running the same exact play over and over, and their guys were just quitting.”
“It was one of those things that Coach [Golden] wanted to see all year, and we finally made it happen,” he added.
The defense, which was coming off three consecutive games where it gave up more than 30 points in each, rebounded to halt the Zips’ attack.
And while it allowed 331 yards of total offense, the unit allowed just four third down conversions in 15 attempts and picked off Akron junior quarterback Chris Jacquemain three times.
Central to those interceptions was the game-icing pick from freshman cornerback Kevin Kroboth, who made an acrobatic play to haul in the pass attempt and an athletic play to run it back into Owls territory.
“Excellent player, excellent player,” Golden said of Kroboth. “He’s a credit to the camp, he is a credit to trusting what you see and not listening to what the recruiting experts say.”
Redshirt senior fullback Marcellous Grigsby, who finished with 40 rushing yards on 11 carries, pounded home a 3-yard to make Kroboth’s pick and run back count, which gave the Owls at 14-point lead.
A blocked field goal which was touched by Akron and recovered by Temple led to Grigsby running another touchdown in, as the senior ended his collegiate career on a high note.
But at that point the game was over, and for the seniors, the last four or five years of hard work all came to fruition.
“It’s been a great run,” senior wide receiver Bruce Francis said. “I had a lot of fun playing with my teammates and being coached by these guys. It’ll hit me hard in a couple of days, but right now I’m just enjoying the victory.”
The Owls took a 6-0 lead in the first half on a 4-yard run by DiMichele, but Akron eventually tied the score with two second half field goals.
Temple will host Villanova in the home opener of the 2009 season.
Prior to kickoff, Temple’s 22 seniors were honored and recognized, as their names were called out one by one before meeting family members on the 50-yard line…The five Temple wins are the program’s most since 1990…Akron’s loss left them with five wins, one shy of bowl eligibility…Redshirt junior kicker Jake Brownell missed an extra point and two field goals.
Todd Orodenker can be reached at email@example.com.