It was a day for records to be broken when the Owls made the bus trip over to Pittsburgh last Saturday.
Senior super back Tarnardo Sharps, with his hard fought 84 yards against Pittsburgh, eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his career…His 1,029 yards this year and his 1,038 yards in 2000 puts him in the company of Temple’s Paul Palmer, who ran for 1,000 yards in the 1985-86 season.
The 84 yards also gave Sharps 3,022 yards for his career.
He is only the second Temple runner, aside from current sideline reporter Palmer (4,895) to accumulate 3,000 yards during their Temple career…
“It is a blessing to be durable enough to play and make it through,” Sharps said.
“I feel good to be behind someone like Paul Palmer, that holds all the rushing records here at Temple University.”
Another record was tied in the contest with the Panthers when senior place kicker Cap Poklemba kicked field goals from 41, 23, 33, 38 and 20 yards.
The five kicks tied Poklemba with Bob Wright (vs. Boston College, 1990) and Bob Clauser (vs. Delaware, 1982) for a Temple School record.
These kicks were made more difficult since Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field has newly laid sod and has cost kickers jobs in the past; just ask Kris Brown, formerly with the Steelers (now with the Texans).
Even senior wide-out Sean Dillard, seemingly dormant for most of the season, caught six balls at Pittsburgh, giving him 123 career receptions.
Clint Graves (1970-72, 120) and Rich Drayton (1987-90, 122) for second place all-time at Temple in career receptions.
Dillard can become Temple’s all-time reception leader with four catches on Saturday, surpassing Gerald Lucear’s 126 (1978-81).
With so much history made, doesn’t it seem like this game was a win?
Well, despite setting new records, Temple did little else right.
Two of those historic Poklemba field goals came after the Owls had a first-and-goal inside Pittsburgh’s 5 yard-line.
Temple couldn’t put the now No. 19 Panthers away, drawing three points instead of seven.
During one drive, the Owls made it as far as the Pittsburgh 1, but on second-and-goal, a Mike McGann quarterback sneak was stopped short, followed by a Sharps missed assignment on third-and-goal, for a loss of yards.
“There is not that big of difference in talent in any division I-A football team. The biggest difference is execution and assignments,” Wallace said after the loss.
“We have everyone block to the left (on Tarnardo’s third down run), and one person blocks to the right.”
The Owls gained 341 yards on 89 offensive plays, while the Panthers gained only 211 on 49 offensive plays.
The defense even sacked the mobile Rod Rutherford four times and forced three fumbles.
There lies the biggest difference in the Owls loss: the defense recovered none of those fumbles, while Pittsburgh’s winning score came on an 11-yard fumble return by Claude Harriott.
“Saturday was the most disappointing loss I’ve ever been associated with. I’ve never been in a situation where we played better on offense, defense and the kicking game than the opponent and still lost the game,” said a somber Wallace.
“We fumble three times and they recover all three getting 14 points out of it, that was the difference in the game.”
The most disappointing part of this loss was for the 13 seniors that contributed to this team that’s officially eliminated from bowl contention with a 3-7 record.
This team had a legit shot to be the first Temple squad to play in a bowl game.
That would have been the first time since the 1979 team appeared and won the Garden State Bowl in New Jersey 28-17 over California.
“It was very disappointing because these seniors have done a lot at Temple as far as building this program into respectability. This game sealed their chances on any bowl game,” Wallace said.
“I think, had we won on Saturday, we would have had a chance.”
Katie Bashore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org