Missed opportunities sealed the Owls’ fate.
A 29-yard missed field goal, the inability to get off the field on third and fourth downs, missed throws by graduate student Frank Nutile and conceding 405 yards of total offense allowed Football Championship Subdivision Villanova to upset Temple University, 19-17, on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field.
In need of a stop while trailing by two, Temple allowed Villanova to gain two first downs and take five minutes, 27 seconds off the clock before it punted the ball to the Owls with 1:27 left in the game.
The Owls lined up in an empty backfield to start their drive on their own 8-yard line. Needing a big first play, Temple called a verticals play sending all receivers downfield, including senior running back Ryquell Armstead.
Nutile dropped back and targeted Armstead down the left sideline, but the pass fell into the hands of Villanova freshman cornerback Elijah Trent for Nutile’s second interception.
“Between missing all of those throws and throwing two picks, I put our team in a bad position to win the game and that’s the reason why we lost.”
Nutile threw both of his interceptions while the Owls trailed in the fourth quarter.
With 11:52 left in the fourth quarter, junior kicker Aaron Boumerhi missed a 29-yard field goal with Temple leading, 17-13.
On the ensuing drive, Villanova faced fourth-and-9 at Temple’s 30-yard line. The Owls sent a blitz to rush senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk into a bad decision. Redshirt-freshman defensive end Arnold Ebiketie forced Bednarczyk to roll to his left, and before he ran out of room to run, he hit senior wide receiver Jarrett McClenton inside the Temple 10-yard line.
Senior safety Delvon Randall had a chance to bring down McClenton, but instead McClenton broke free from Randall and scored with 7:17 left.
“Going to my left, being a lefty, it’s not that tough,” said Bednarczyk, who had 254 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception. “If I was going to my right, that would have been an extremely hard throw. …It was just, honestly, figuring out where to put that ball. And you have a split second to figure out where you want to put it so that was the hardest part.”
The Owls trailed, 19-17, after the Wildcats missed the extra-point attempt. On Temple’s third offensive play of the next drive, Nutile tried to fit a pass into the middle of the field, but Wildcats’ senior linebacker Jeff Steeb was there for the interception.
“[Redshirt-freshman wideout Jadan Blue] gave me a pretty good play there, and I still put it a little bit behind him,” Nutile said. “I gotta see it on tape to see for sure, but [Steeb] made a good play and I might’ve forced it a little bit, but we’ll see tomorrow on tape.”
“Coach put us in a good coverage for the play, and we knew they were trying to hit the seams all day,” Steeb said. “So just from the formation, I knew most likely it was probably going that way.”
Nutile finished the game completing 18-of-32 attempts for 185 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
To improve from his first season opening start, Nutile said he will reach out to former Temple quarterback Phillip Walker. The Owls’ next game is on Sept. 8 against the University at Buffalo at 3:30 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field.
“[Walker] is obviously one of the best quarterbacks that has ever played here, so anything I can get from him would be huge,” Nutile said. “I’ll definitely be in contact with him over the next couple of days and probably try to send tape out to him to see what he saw and try to go from there.”
Temple blocks two kicks
In the second quarter, Villanova lined up for a 31-yard field goal attempt while leading, 13-3.
As the ball was snapped, redshirt-sophomore defensive end Quincy Roche penetrated the Villanova offensive line and blocked junior kicker Drew Kresge’s field-goal attempt.
Redshirt-sophomore cornerback Kimere Brown picked up the loose ball and ran 74 yards for Temple’s first touchdown of the season.
Roche also blocked an extra-point attempt. Temple has now blocked 20 kicks since 2014 to lead the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Deja vu on defense
For the second straight year, Temple allowed more than 400 total yards against Villanova. This time around, Villanova had a more balanced attack.
Last season, the Wildcats passed for 382 yards. This season, the Wildcats gained 254 yards through the air and 151 on the ground.
Villanova senior running back Aaron Forbes rushed for 112 yards to record his fourth career 100-plus-yard game. Senior tight end Ryan Bell had nine receptions for 81 yards, including a touchdown on the opening drive of the game.
Defensive end suffers apparent leg injury
With about three minutes left in the first half, redshirt-junior defensive end Dana Levine went down with an apparent injury to his right leg.
Levine, who couldn’t apply pressure to his leg, needed help from the training staff to exit the field.
Levine did not return to action, and coach Geoff Collins said he will know more about his injury tomorrow. Last season, Levine made 25 tackles and recorded two sacks in 13 games.
Friend of program ailing
Collins walked into the post-game press conference visibly distraught.
After the loss, the program heard the news that a member of the Temple football family, not a player or coach, is suffering from a serious illness. Updates will follow.