Last-minute field goal helps Owls prevail against Villanova

Sophomore Aaron Boumerhi kicked the game-winning field goal in Temple’s 16-13 win against Villanova at Lincoln Financial Field.

Junior safety Delvon Randall tackles Villanova sophomore wide receiver Zac Kerxton in the third quarter of Temple's 16-13 win against Villanova on Sept. 9. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

New jersey number, same Ventell Bryant.

Bryant — who didn’t travel with the team to Notre Dame last weekend — made his season debut wearing No. 19 instead of No. 1, which will be rotated week-to-week.

The redshirt-junior wideout hauled in a 29-yard pass over a Villanova defender from redshirt-sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi on a late fourth-quarter drive Temple.

Six plays later, sophomore kicker Aaron Boumerhi, who missed a 48-yard attempt earlier in the game, booted in a 49-yard game-winning field goal to help the Owls beat the Wildcats, 16-13.

Boumerhi and senior kicker Austin Jones combined for 10 points in coach Geoff Collins’ first career win at Temple.

“[Boumerhi’s] a competitor,” Collins said. “We’ve had faith in him just like we do all of our kids. We know what we can do. We see it every single day in practice, and if it’s going to be time to win the game, I’m confident with either one of those guys.”

Temple led 13-0 in the third quarter, but the Wildcats responded with 13 unanswered points.

The Wildcats made it a one-possession game late in the fourth quarter. Junior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk capped off an eight play, 91-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Taurus Phillips. He beat sophomore linebacker Sam Franklin in coverage on the play.

Sophomore kicker Drew Kresge made a 34-yard field goal to even the score at 13 with three minutes, 29 seconds left.

After Boumerhi’s field goal, Villanova had one last opportunity on offense to either tie the game or take the lead but failed to do so. The Wildcats started their drive at the 23-yard line needing to travel into field goal range or score a touchdown and didn’t have timeouts. Senior running back Matt Gudzak fumbled and redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sharif Finch recovered it to seal the win.

Temple limited Villanova to 20 rushing yards in the victory. The Owls allowed 422 rushing yards in last week’s loss against the University of Notre Dame.

“There’s definitely room for improvement, but I think we made incredible strides today,” Finch said. “A lot of guys are getting their second career start and coming up big for us. Guys out here like Shaun Bradley and Chapelle [Russell], they came out here and handled their business today, and I was proud about that.”

Penalties became a problem for Temple early in the game. The Owls committed three in the first six minutes. During the first series, redshirt-senior offensive lineman Leon Johnson committed an unnecessary roughness foul that costed the Owls 15 yards.

Johnson was pulled off the field right after the play occurred. Redshirt-junior offensive lineman Jaelin Robinson was inserted at right tackle, while redshirt-senior offensive lineman Cole Boozer moved to left tackle.

Coaches also pulled sophomore linebacker Shaun Bradley off the field and replaced him with sophomore linebacker William Kwenkeu after he committed an offsides infraction.

Collins said the team uses the same philosophy in practice and called the penalties “uncharacteristic.”

In his second consecutive start, Marchi completed 20-of-34 attempts for 274 yards. The only Temple touchdown of the day came off a 1-yard run by redshirt-senior fullback Nick Sharga at the end of the first half. Marchi hit four different receivers and went 5-for-6 for 77 yards on the drive.

Bryant made two catches on the drive for 28 yards. He led Temple with seven catches for 79 yards.

“We missed him last week,” Collins said. ”Even though the offense did really well last week, I think he’s an explosive player. That catch he made on the sidelines, I mean there’s not a lot of humans in this country or in the world that can make that catch under duress… it was a special day for him.”

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