The sun managed to shine over Lincoln Financial field as the game clock approached zero and an unfamiliar Saturday celebration commenced.
Band conductors were replaced by players
in pads, while others with helmets held high and in hand, supplemented the sound of the fight song along side the student section. The cause for celebration was simple: A win.
Coach Al Golden captured his first coaching victory as the Owls (1-8) snapped their 20-game losing streak, beating Bowling Green, 28-14.
The win was the Owls’ first since Nov. 13, 2004, against Syracuse.
“This is an unbelievable deal for our kids and Al,” defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said. “I’m really happy for Al because he has done a great job with these kids, and the seniors that have just hung in there and worked extremely hard.”
Golden hurried from the stadium to be with his wife, Kelly, who is hospitalized with mild complications to her pregnancy. He addressed the media in a conference call Sunday.
A day removed from the glory, Golden downplayed the win.
“It’s a big win, no doubt,” Golden said, “But I don’t think we should be shutting down Broad Street just yet.”
Only four starters – Tim Brown, Josh Bundy, Ryan Gore and Elliot Seifert – were active
for Temple’s last victory.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Gore said. “This is a great feeling … to finally be able to put our game together. A lot of people are emotional [because of the win] and that’s how a locker room is supposed to be. I’m tired of coming into a locker room where everybody’s heads are hanging down.”
Brown echoed those sentiments.
“It feels great to finally get this monkey off of our back,” said Brown, who recorded his third 100-yard rushing game of the season.
“We have played well at times this season, but it’s great to have it come together today.”
Senior wide receiver Mike Holley said he and his teammates took something from a Friday night video session that wasn’t as apparent to them before.
“From watching the video we saw what we were capable of doing when we are fighting
for each other,” Holley said.
“We looked at a few series and plays and we saw what it takes to win. We just have to put it together and that’s what we did.”
Holley, who has had a roller-coaster career
since coming to Temple in 2002, said he notices a distinct difference in the attitudes of players on this year’s team.
“Last season guys would have just been waiting for the season to end, not even trying to win or fight like we are this season,” Holley added. “This season is much different,” he continued.
“We are looking at things as a new season
from today on forward. Hopefully we can take something from this win and build on it into the rest of the season and let the end of this year carry on into next season.”
The offense has shown signs of life since wide receiver Travis Shelton returned to action against Clemson three weeks ago. Shelton’s 96-yard kickoff return Saturday sealed the deal for the Owls and notched his third straight game with more than 200 all-purpose yards. But Shelton’s day didn’t start off so well. The Owls’ first drive ended after a pass to Shelton deflected off his hands and into the hands of a Falcons defender. On the ensuing play, Falcons tailback Chris Bullock scampered 30-yards for a touchdown to put Bowling Green up 7-0.Golden said the play immediately
woke up the Owls.
“At that point, I said this could be the best thing that could happen to us all day,” Golden said. “… I didn’t think we had a focus. I thought we were almost agitated in terms of being pumped up. That got us focused.”On the Falcons’ next possession, freshman linebacker Junior Galette jumped onto the shoulders of a Bowling Green blocker and blocked a punt.
The Owls immediately capitalized, using a bit of trickery. On a flea-flicker, quarterback Adam DiMichele found Shelton open for a 43-yard touchdown pass. Yet, the sequence of the game came in the latter half of the second quarter.
With the score knotted at seven, Bowling Green (4-5) found itself parked on Temple’s two-yard line. Bullock lunged for the end zone, but a hit from linebacker Walter Mebane rocketed the ball through the end zone for a touchback.
Again the Owls capitalized, embarking on an 80-yard drive which featured big runs from Shelton and Brown before running back Jason Harper pounded it in from nine yards out.Midway through the third quarter DiMichele hooked up with receiver Bruce Francis on 45-yard touchdown strike to give the Owls a bit of a cushion, at 21-7.
Bowling Green responded with a drive of its own to open the fourth quarter with a score and cut Temple’s lead to within one touchdown, at 21-14.
Shelton took the ensuing kickoff, a squib that appeared to be directed away from him, and ran from the Falcons’ coverage team.
“They kicked the ball to him, and I don’t know why,” DiMichele said. “He made them pay too.”
The Owls look to do something Saturday at home against Central Michigan that they haven’t done since 2002 – win two games in a row.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.