Pierce comes alive to help Owls win third straight game

Redshirt-junior wide reciever Joe Jones avoids a tackle. Photo by Jazmyne Anderson

Sophomore running back scores three touchdowns to make the Owls 3-0.

It sure seems like Temple is getting used to winning in the forth quarter.

Yet again, it took heroics in the fourth quarter to take the Owls to a 30-16 win over the favored Connecticut Huskies. The Owls are now 3-0 for the first time since the 1979 edition accomplished the feat.

“It’s a big win because we’re 3-0 and it was against a real physical opponent,” coach Al Golden said. “Connecticut is a good team, they never beat themselves.”

Sophomore running back Bernard Pierce finally lived up to all the Heisman billboards and had his breakout day. The stand out tailback ran for 169-yards and two touchdowns, but also had a receiving touchdown of 27-yards a la pass from Chester Stewart.

The big play of the day came from the defensive powerhouse that is junior defensive Adrian Robinson. On a second down and 13 with the Owls down 16-14, Robinson and three other Owls powered Connecticut junior running back Jordan Todman toward the ground. Before Todman’s knee hit ground, Robinson successfully stripped the game’s leading rusher and virtually danced his way in the UConn end zone for six points. The Owls didn’t look back from there.

“I saw the ball loose, I ripped it out, and It was murder she wrote from there,” Robinson said.

Pierce would go on to score his second rushing touchdown after the ensuing UConn possession from only two plays, solidifying his day. Pierce was not available for comment post-game, as he was being treated with fluids.

Temple’s run defense still hasn’t found their stride yet and it was exposed again Saturday afternoon. Todman rushed for 192-yards on 26 touches. On the other hand, Temple’s defensive backs had a solid day. UConn redshirt-senior Zach Frazer had no touchdowns and only 16 complete passes out of his 31 attempts. A majority of those passes being flat routes that had excellent block coverage. Golden noted that the blocking was a key part in the Huskies limited success.

Golden was aggressive and took a few risks on special teams. Golden said he had a lot of faith in his special teams while at the same time, he was trying to change the game’s momentum. On a fourth and 4 later in the second, Golden called for a fake punt that almost worked. Senior punter Jeff Wathne made a solid throw to junior defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson, but Wilkerson was forced out inches to the first down. Golden also attempted a fake field goal with sophomore placekicker Brian McManus, but his field goal turned punt had to much power and sailed into the end zone for a touchback.

“We’re trying to get better because the last two weeks weren’t so hot,” McManus said. “We tried to up the tempo but we still have a lot of things to work out.”

Temple’s work doesn’t get easier from here. Big Ten fixture Penn State is next and Golden said he knows his alma mater is among the elite.

“I’ll be honest, we have not played well up there. In the last four years we’ve been out rushed close to a thousand yards,” Golden said. “We jumped up this week and we’ll have to jump up again in talent next week.”

Kick-off in Happy Valley is at 3:30 on Saturday.

Christian Audesirk can be reached at christian.audesirk@temple.edu

GAME NOTES:

– Temple is 3-0 for the first time since 1979. The 79’ team finished 10-2 with an appearance in the now defunct Garden State Bowl.
– This eight-game home win-streak is a school record. The previous long streak was seven games back in 1940.
– Bernard Pierce tied his record for most touchdowns in a game with 3. He did it twice last year as well.
– This is the first win against UConn since 2002, when the Owls beat them in Connecticut.

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