There were some tense moments at the end of Temple’s 49-40 victory over Eastern Michigan last Saturday night at Franklin Field.
Temple ran the score up to 49-19 on a Kyron Johnson touchdown run with less than 10 minutes left in the game. With 8:45 on the clock, it looked like Temple would coast to a blow out victory.
Eastern Michigan had other plans, however. Quarterback Walter Church, who passed for 364 yards (34-for-50), along with receiver Kenny Christian (20-for-198 yards) drove the Eagles 27 yards on three plays.
Running back John White took Eastern Michigam the rest of the way to the end zone, setting up his own five-yard touchdown run with a 32-yard run. The eight-play, 73-yard drive got the Eagles within 23 points, 49-26.
With 5:13 left, the Eagles decided not to try an onside kick and instead opted for a regular kickoff. Temple, with mostly backups in the game, was forced to punt after three unsuccessful downs.
The Eagles once again drove the length of the field and scored a touchdown on the Owls’ reserves. After the extra-point, Temple still led 49-33.
“I never did feel worried about losing the game,” Temple coach Bobby Wallace said. “If I had, you sure wouldn’t have seen backups on the field.”
Eastern Michigan, seemingly conceding defeat, kicked the ball deep with 1:09 left in the game, trailing 49-33. They caught a break when Temple’s Lawrence Wade fumbled and the Eagles got the ball back with 18 seconds left in the game.
“I was expecting them to onside kick the ball and they didn’t,” Wallace said. “A lot of things at the end of the game made the game closer than it was, but I’m not worried about that — a win is a win.”
Church made two quick strikes to Kevin Walter including a 21-yard touchdown pass. Rather than go for a two-point conversion and attempt an onside kick and one last miracle attempt with four seconds left, Eastern Michigan went for the extra-point.
They made the point-after but went on to lose the game, 49-40.
“I think Coach Wallace was being generous in his play calling and substitution(s),” Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Woodruff said. “We weren’t going to go out and do something like that (an onside kick). We’re not going to tell kids not to try to play hard, but at that point we weren’t going to kick an onside kick.”
If the Eagles had tried for a two-point conversion and made it they would have had a slim chance to tie the game. They could have attempted an onside kick, and if they recovered it and the four seconds hadn’t yet dissolved from the clock, they would have had a deep shot at the end zone.
With Church passing for 364 yards, a miracle finish for the Eagles wouldn’t have been out of the realm of possibility.
But instead, Coach Woodruff decided to concede the game.
“No matter what it boils down to we weren’t going to let that game get away from us,” Temple linebacker LeVar Talley said. “We have enough confidence in our second team. Although they didn’t do what they are capable of, they did what they were supposed to do and they need the experience.”
With West Virginia coming to town Thursday, the Owls have a short week ahead of them, and the Owls starters could use all the recovery time available.
“I was more concerned with keeping our defensive players off the field as much as possible in the fourth quarter,” Wallace said, “as I was worried about how many points Eastern Michigan scored.”
In the fourth quarter, Church threw for 105 yards. The Temple defense, which came into the game ranked fourth in the nation, was hit by a few big strikes by Church.
Church had three touchdowns in the game and a 51-yard pass that could have been a sack.
Church was being wrapped up by Temple’s defense, but managed to shovel a pass to Christian who took it 51 yards. That set up an Eastern Michigan touchdown.
The Eagles also scored on a 39-yard pass from Church to Kevin Zureki. The defense almost had him wrapped up on that play, but the Eagles’ offensive line warded off the Owl attack at the last moment.
“We wanted to get it (the night) over with,” Wallace said, “but (we) couldn’t get it over with.”