A fourth quarter comeback gives the Owls a win on opening night.
The Mayor’s Cup is coming to North Broad.
In what can only be explained as late fourth quarter magic, sophomore placekicker Brandon McManus clinched the Owl’s season opener with a 43 yard field goal that left Temple faithful in a frenzy. The 31 – 24 victory was capped with Villanova’s dual threat senior wideout Matt Szczur making a fumble that was recovered by sophomore defensive back Justin Gildea for a 26-yard touchdown return.
“There are a lot of irrelevant games in college football this weekend. This is not one of them,” coach Al Golden said. “This is going to be a meaningful game for years to come.”
A mixture of good timing and resiliency put Temple (1-0, 0-0 in the MAC) in the win column. McManus proved his mettle by going 4 for 5 on his field goals including a 53-yard strike in the second quarter. It was the second longest field goal in school history and longest since 1995 when Rich Maston made a 51-yarder against West Virginia. The sophomore kicker from North Penn also hit from 44, 40, and 43-yards respectively.
Temple opened scoring when surprise sophomore starting running back Matt Brown ran in a 17-yard run that faked out the Wildcat defense. Brown took only 10 carries for 54 yards before highly touted sophomore running back Bernard Pierce took his 20 snaps for 75 yards. Brown showed that he could be a bruiser back as he continually had to have multiple Wildcats take him down for tackles.
The shaky play of red shirt junior Chester Stewart was noticeable from kickoff. Although his stats showed him going 16-for-27 with 200 yards and a touchdown, Stewart continually threw high passes with some even being 10 yards away from receivers.
His patience eventually won out. With 4:07 left in the fourth quarter, Stewart had start Pierce wide open for a sure first down. Instead he threw a bomb to his new to senior wideout Michael Campbell, who had beat the Villanova corners for a game changing 62 yard touchdown. Campbell turned heads by posting eight catches for 127 yards. That was his first 100-yard game of his career.
“Obviously (Stewart) won the game for us, and I was excited for that,” Golden said. “We had a quarterback that won in the two minute drill. This time he did it after he made critical error.”
That critical error was Stewart fumbling the ensuing snap and turning the ball over to Villanova who had sophomore placekicker Nick Yako struggling throughout the game, who had already missed from 38 and 43 yards respectively. Yako would squeak by the 41 yarder that led to Stewart and company’s game winning two minute drill that had all 32193 fans off their seats.
Temple gets a short week as they prepare for a Thursday night clash with defending MAC champions, Central Michigan. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.
– Senior defensive back Marquise Liverpool had the game’s only interception and it was the fourth of his Temple career.
– Junior defensive back James Nixon had a hand in every team for Temple. On the depth chart he was listed as a cornerback, but he also lined up as a wide receiver and a kickoff returner.
– The Mayor’s Cup is now tied with each university with a win.
-Just as the team has done in all of its previous wins, the players sang Frank Sinatra’s “High Hopes,” upon entering the locker room.
Christian Audesirk can be reached at email@example.com