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McManus FG with :03 left boots Temple past Villanova, 31-24;
Owls intercept lateral on 'Nova return for six more
Philadelphia, PA (Sept. 3) - Brandon McManus booted a 41-yard FG with :03 remaining to take a 25-24 lead and win over local rival Villanova in Philadelphia's Mayor's Cup Game played at Lincoln Financial Field. Temple's 80-yard drive with 1:51 left and without any time-outs remaining followed a 41-yard FG by 'Nova's Nick Yako that put the Wildcats up, 24-22. Temple's Justin Gildea picked off the second of two illegal forward passes on Villanova's ensuing kick-off return to add six more points to the final score to seal the 31-24 victory. It was an exciting game to start Collegefootballfan.com's 2010 season.
After 'Nova failed to convert on a 38 yard FG on its opening drive, Temple's Matt Brown scored on a 17-Yard reverse on the following drive to put the Owls up, 7-0, with the addition of Brandon McManus's extra point.
To start the second period, Villanova QB rolled to his right and threw a weak pass that was intercepted by TU's Marquise Liverpool. It would be Whitney's only non-completion of 15 passes in the first half. The Owls could not capitalize, but the Wildcats retaliated with a 72-yard TD drive capped by Whitney's two-yard TD pass to WR Matt Szczur to knot the score at 7-all. VU extended its lead on its next possession when Aaron Ball ( (9 carries, 45 yards) took it over from nine yards out, and Nick Yako's point after made it 14-7. QB Chester Stewart of Temple over threw a wide open Michael Campbell in the end zone which prompted me to comment that Whitney had a weak, but accurate arm and that Stewart possessed a strong arm with little accuracy. Guest Game Analyst (GGA) Stash Greshko replied, "It's only the first game. Things may change." Temple settled after that for a 53-yard FG by strong-legged Brandon McManus to close out the first half of scoring, 14-10, in Villanova's favor.
Stash and I went out for a beer at the half. What a difference from last time we saw Temple play. Our final game of 2009 was in cold, blustery Washington, D.C. where the Owls fell to UCLA in the second Eagle Bank Bowl, 30-21. GGA Eric Koreivo and I froze our butts off there. Here we are nine months later seeing the Owls in our next game with a hurricane moving up along the coast out to sea on a comfortable night in Philly, wearing shorts, and needing a cold beer. Gotta love the diverse weather of college football in the northeast.
Nova started the second half as they did the first with Yako missing on a long FG attempt, this one from 50 yards. Temple drove deep into Wildcat territory, but LB Anthony Johnson sacked Stewart for a big loss on third and five. McManus scored his second FG of the night from 44 yards away to narrow his team's margin down, 14-13. Time expired in the third with Villanova on the Temple 28. The Temple dance team performed their routine on the field. We give the Temple girls an "A". More highlights were about to follow.
Thirteen seconds into the period, Whitney connected with WR Norman White ( (8 catches for 69 yards and 1 TD) in the end zone on an out pattern for a 21-yard score to increase the 'Nova lead, 21-13. The crowd on 32,193 showed great spirit and the anticipation was in the air for Temple to come right back. With a1st and 10 at the Wildcat 41, Stewart again threw way over Campbell's head. McManus entered to put up a "short" 36-yard FG, and missed. A lot of Temple fans left their seats and headed out of Lincoln Financial Field. With over 10 minutes left and down by eight against an intra-city rival, people leave? Why did they buy tickets? Those who stayed, especially more dedicated temple fans, were about to get what they were looking for. Temple's defense pushed Nova back five yards to force a punt from their own 15. The Owls got McManus back into FG range and this time he hit from 40 yards away to get within five, 21-16. This time, the Owl D held 'Nova to only three yards on the next series, and the cats punted from their own 22. On their first play from their won 38, Stewart found his accuracy and connected with wide open Michael Campbell for a 62-yard TD pass. They tried to hook up again on a two-point conversion and failed, but the Owls were back in the lead now, 22-21. The Owl D held again and forced VU to punt again. TU took over at its own 16. However, Stewart fumbled and the ball was recovered by 'Nova SS John Dempsey at the Temple 22. TU Head Coach Al Golden challenged that Stewart's knee was down. Under review, Temple fans chanted "Lucky 'Nova!" And as luck would have it, the Wildcats took over in field goal range with only 2:17 left on the clock. Temple had one time-out left and used it after Whitney lost two yards. Now I'm not a football genius, but with one time out left for 'Nova, don't you run the clock down to avoid any last-chance comebacks after you take the lead. We respect HC Andy Talley with 207 victories along with offensive coordinator Mark Ferrante who have been together when we saw them in the D-III play-offs with St. Lawrence back in 1980, but what they did next we don't understand. Instead of running the ball in the middle of the field to keep the clock running and to give his kicker his optimal angle, Whitney attempted two passes that fell incomplete. With 1:51 left, Yako nailed a 41-yard FG to give Villanova the lead. He booted it up a year ago as time expired to give the Cats a 27-24 victory. Did he seal it again for the Cats with a 24-22 win? The next 1:43 offered the final answer. Temple started from their own 22. To Stash's credit, Stewart improved on his accuracy completing four of seven attempts for 28 yards and running for 13 on his one rushing attempt. More importantly, he was able to get the ball out of bounds or get a first down to stop the clock and to keep the chains moving. With :03 left, it was McManus's turn to put the game away for the Owls. The Mayor's Cup game in Philadelphia got Collegefootballfan.com's season off to a memorable start.
Temple will be back at the Linc this Thursday to host Central Michigan to open the MAC season. We'll be back in November on the 16th to see them host Ohio. Stash says he'll be with us again. Villanova travels to play Lehigh next Saturday. The Mountain Hawks defeated Drake out in Iowa Saturday, 28-14. We'll be a Goodman Stadium Saturday for the first half of our Lehigh Valley double-header.
We sat in the end zone for $18 - well worth it. Only two vendors in the whole stadium selling programs. Iron fences in parking lots create barriers to find direct routes to get to the Linc.
So much for Bernard Pierce's Heisman hype. He started behind Matt Brown. Brown finished with 54 yards on 10 carries and a TD. Pierce eventually totaled 75 yards on 20 carries. Matt Szczur, last season's CAA Player of the Year, did not put up big numbers for Villanova. He carried five times for 15 yards, caught five passes for 16 yards and a TD, and completed three of three passes for 29 yards.
For a local company's promotion, a Temple student came out to kick a FG. Not only did he make it, he took off his shoe and knocked it through wearing only his sock! Temple must have great depth for kickers on their campus. In another promo, an energetic co-ed made a 25-yard reception falling to the ground on a pass from "Hooter" the Temple mascot to win a prize. Her catch was include in game highlights on the big screen.
The Owl screech over the PA system is ear-piercing!
The TU Dance Team gets an A from us, but so does the Admissions office. There are a lot of nice looking young, girls at Temple.
To determine how much the Owls have improved, we think the true test will be when they return to visit Penn State on Sept. 25. Among their four losses a season ago for the 9-4 record, the 41-7 loss at PSU was their biggest margin.
By the way, Temple and Rutgers agreed to meet again in the future. We'll be at some of those.