Redshirt-junior quarterback Mike Gerardi makes his collegiate debut to guide the Owls to a homecoming win over Bowling Green.
It took just three passing attempts for coach Al Golden to realize he needed to make a change.
After redshirt-junior quarterback Chester Stewart threw an interception that was returned by Bowling Green junior defensive back Jovan Leacock 49 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, Golden benched Stewart and put redshirt-junior Mike Gerardi under center. The switch proved to be the right move as Gerardi went 9 for 15 for 163 passing yards and to passing touchdowns to help Temple hold off Bowling Green for a 28-27 win in the team’s homecoming game.
“I thought Gerardi came in and did a nice job and that was his first time,” Golden said. “Clearly he made some good throws, he conducted the game well and managed the game well.”
According to Golden, the switch was planned.
“We were going to play him anyway going into it, he would have been out the next series anyway,” He said. “I know you guys wouldn’t believe it because it was like a Hollywood script, but he was going to play in the third series, it just so happened that the previous series ended with a pick six.”
After Stewart’s pick-six to put the team in a 6-0 hole, Gerardi began making plays to put the Owls ahead of the Falcons. He would open the second quarter with an 80-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Rod Streater. It was the longest touchdown pass thrown by a Temple quarterback since 1998, when Devin Scott connected with Carlos Johnson for a 80-yard touchdown pass in a game against Virginia Tech.
“I came out of a play-action fake and I just saw him wide open, I just threw up the ball and it wasn’t even the best pass, but he was just so open.” Gerardi said. “He caught it and I knew it was a touchdown.”
Gerardi would add another long touchdown pass in the second quarter when he connected with junior tight end Evan Rodriguez on a 46-yard pass play.
Bowling Green would respond by taking advantage of two personal foul penalties by the Temple defense in the third quarter to set up a 12-yard touchdown run from senior running back Willie Geter. Following the drive, the Owls would take advantage of a fumble by Bowling Green senior punter Bryan Wright, which junior linebacker Quinten White recovered in the endzone for a touchdown.
Temple’s final points of the game would come courtesy of sophomore running back Bernard Pierce, who scored on a six-yard touchdown run. He had a solid game for the Owls, totaling 106 rushing yards with his touchdown.
Bowling Green would make the game interesting in the fourth quarter as redshirt-freshman Jordan Hopgood would score a one-yard touchdown run to close the gap. Then as time expired, redshirt-freshman quarterback Matt Schilz hit redshirt-senior wide receiver Calvin Wiley for four-yard touchdown pass. Instead of hitting the extra point, Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson elected to go for the win with the two-point conversion. Senior defensive back Marquise Liverpool would bat the potentially game-winning pass away to give the Owls the win.
Up next, the Owls go on the road to play Buffalo on Oct. 23. Kickoff is a noon and the game will be shown locally on WPVI-TV 6ABC.
Brian Dzenis can be reach at email@example.com.