Kicker duo is ‘weapon’ in football’s first win

Sophomore Aaron Boumerhi hit a career-long field goal to win Saturday’s game against Villanova.

Sophomore kicker Aaron Boumerhi kicks a field goal during the Owls’ home opener against Villanova on Saturday. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Ed Foley walked toward Austin Jones and Aaron Boumerhi after Villanova tied the score late in the fourth quarter.

“[Foley] looked at Austin and was like, ‘No matter what the distance is, be ready. You guys are going to have to win this game for us,’” Boumerhi said.

Boumerhi missed a 48-yard field goal attempt earlier in the game. The sophomore got the nod for a 49-yard field goal attempt with the game on the line.

He was nervous, but encouragement from Jones and Foley helped Boumerhi boot the career-long kick through the uprights to give Temple a 16-13 victory.

Temple used both Jones and Boumerhi in field-goal situations against Villanova. Jones, a senior, went 1-for-1, while Boumerhi went 2-for-3. The duo combined for 10 points in the contest.

“There was no doubt that we were going to kick the field goal if we were within the range, and it was well within the range,” coach Geoff Collins said. “[Boumerhi’s] got a strong leg. We’re confident with Austin, confident with [Boumerhi], but just the distance today [Boumerhi] had the leg for that kick.”

When Temple started its drive with three minutes and 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Jones and Boumerhi started to practice field goals on the sideline.

Redshirt-junior wideout Ventell Bryant made a one-handed catch for a 29-yard  gain to set up Temple in Villanova territory. The Owls picked up one more first down because of a defensive holding penalty on Villanova.

As Jones and Boumerhi noticed the field goal attempt was going to be from a longer distance, Boumerhi began to take more practice kicks than Jones, Boumerhi said.

Though Jones and Boumerhi battle each other for field goal tries in games, Boumerhi said the two have a camaraderie.

“[Jones] helps downplay the situation a lot for me, because sometimes there’s a game-winning kick and their head goes all crazy,” Boumerhi said. “We both do a really good job of coaching each other in that sense. We do a really good job of watching each other’s technique and making sure it’s fundamentally sound.”

The coaching staff decides to send Jones or Boumerhi out for field goals depending on the distance, Boumerhi said. The coaches’ plan was that Jones would attempt any kicks shorter than 43 yards.

Boumerhi’s attempts this season are from 44, 48 and 49 yards. Jones’ lone attempt on Saturday was from 22 yards.

In last week’s game against the University of Notre Dame, Jones went 1-for-2 on field goal attempts. The kicks were both from 36 yards.

“We got two guys that can really help us no matter who we plug in,” redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch said. “It’s great having that as a weapon.”

In 2016, Boumerhi replaced Jones after he tore his ACL against Memphis. Boumerhi finished the season 15-for-17 on field goals after he made his first eight attempts.

Redshirt-senior fullback Nick Sharga said that experience helped Boumerhi step into the moment and make the game-winning field goal.

“Last year was the first time I actually won a football game,” Boumerhi said. “Because in high school, the games that I played in we never won. It was the first time I ever had to make a crucial kick like that in a game.”

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