PHILADELPHIA, September 17, 2011 – The Temple Owls had not registered a win against the Penn State Nittany Lions in football in 70
years. The feeling at Temple was that they have narrowed the gap between themselves and Penn State, and this could
very well be the year the streak ended. In their previous meeting Penn State registered a come from behind win.
For 51 minutes it looked as though Temple would end the streak. The Owls would deny Penn State opportunities, Penn State would commit mistakes. But the last 9 minutes belonged to the Nittany Lions. Two interceptions and 1 yard touchdown run by Running Back Michael Zordich let Penn State escape with a 14 – 10 win in front of 57,323 at Lincoln Financial Field.
“We turned the ball over three times,” said Temple Coach Steve Addazio. “We wanted to get into the third quarter and fight them. But
two turnovers at the end, a short field, it put our defense in too tough of a situation to overcome. There are no moral victories. You play the game to win.”
“You’re always fortunate when you win,” Penn State Coach Joe Paterno said. “I tried to tell people that was as good a Temple team as ever and I’ve seen a lot of them. I knew we would be in for a tough game.”
To pull off the upset it was imperative for the Owls to get a lead. They did so in the first quarter on a 2 yard touchdown run by Junior Running Back Bernard Pierce. The score capped an 8 play, 82 yard drive taking 4:04 to give the Owls a 7 – 0 lead with 6:54 remaining in the first
quarter. The drive was aided by a pass interference call on Penn State Corner Back Chaz Powell against Temple Senior Wide Receiver Rod Streater in the end zone. On the following play a face mask penalty against Penn State placed the ball inside the 10 yard line leading to the Pierce touchdown. Penn State came back in the ensuing possession, but missed on a 45 yard field goal attempt that was wide left.
In the second quarter Penn State tied the game at 7. Taking possession at midfield after a Temple punt with 8:10 remaining, Penn State made a quarterback change inserting Matt McGloin in the game replacing starter Rob Bolden. The Nittany Lions responded with a 7 play, 50 yard drive in 3:13 aided by a face mask penalty. The drive was capped by a 17 yard run by Running Back Silas Redd with 4:57 to play. The quarterback change worked well for Penn State, so Temple Coach Steve Addazio did the same sending Senior Chester Stewart into the game. Stewart led the team to the Penn State 23 yard line. Junior Kicker Brandon McManus made good on a 40 yard field goal at the: 37 mark to give his team a 10 – 7
halftime lead. The scoring drive for the Owls was 8 plays, 39 yards over 4:12. Penn State did get a 49 yard field goal attempt with 4 seconds to play, but Temple Sophomore Defensive Tackle Shahid Paulhill blocked the potential game tying kick by Sam Ficken to end the half.
The offenses tried to get going in the second half, but the defenses stopped the opponent when needed. Temple was fortunate in that a Penn State touchdown pass from McGloin to Wide receiver Derek Moye was called back due to a holding penalty. The ensuing Penn State punt was blocked
giving Temple at first down at the Penn State 39 yard line with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter, but Temple could not capitalize. The teams went to the fourth quarter with the Owls leading 10 – 7.
Temple committed a mistake when Quarterback Mike Gerardi had his pass intercepted by Powell giving Penn State a first down at the Temple
26. The turnover gave Penn State an opportunity to tie the game on a 36 yard field goal attempt by Kicker Evan Lewis. His kick hit the right upright, and Temple took over with 10:43 to play. However Gerardi was picked off again by Linebacker Michael Mauti at the
8:46 mark on the Temple 44 yard line.
“They were bad throws,” Gerardi said. “I didn’t lead them enough. Against a team like Penn State they will make you pay for that, and they did.”
This was the opportunity Penn State would not waste. The Nittany Lions converted a 4th and 2 getting the ball on the Temple 12 yard line. With a 4th and 1 on the Temple 3 yard line, Redd used second effort to get a critical first down on the 1 yard line. That led to the touchdown run by Michael Zordich capping the 12 play, 44 yard drive in 6:04. Penn State went for the win, not the tie.
“I felt it was the way to go,” said Paterno. “We played good defensive football on the last few drives.”
“It’s one thing to punt the ball, and let your defense win it,” Addazio said. “It’s another thing to give them the ball. You’re asking for it. The defense gets worn down. You have to take care of the football. We didn’t do that.”
Temple mounted a drive to get to the Penn State 34 yard line, but got no closer.
The Owls gained 123 yards through the air. The quarterbacks split time. Gerardi passed for 98 and Stewart for 98. Addazio felt it would be a good change of pace to put Stewart in the game, especially since the Penn State defense was limiting the Temple run offense. Pierce had 50 yards net rushing, only 7 in the second half.
“We had to be able to throw the football to win the game,” said Addazio. “We had to throw the ball down field, and we didn’t execute that.”
Penn State Quarterbacks McGloin and Bolden had 216 yards through the air. Redd ran for 86 yards and a touchdown. Moye caught 67 balls
for 112 yards.
Temple committed 3 turnovers, 2 interceptions and a fumble. Penn State had 1 turnover, but missed 3 field goal attempts, 1 blocked, and had a punt blocked. The Nittany Lions committed 7 penalties for 69 yards. Yet the Blue and White hung in there to get the win.
“Turnovers make the difference,” Paterno said. “You have to make them happen. But if you win the turnover battle, you usually win the game. Poor kicking offset the turnovers.”
The Cherry and White are now 2 – 1 on the season. Temple prepares for a game at Maryland. The loss hurt, but the Owls need to be ready
to go next week. The team cannot dwell on the loss. It will be hard to do. This was a game they could have, and maybe should have won. And it was a victory that would have meant much to the team and the school. Temple set a record for student tickets sold circa 12,000.
“One game does not define us,” said Addazio. We’ve got a season to play. My job is to keep this thing rolling, and rolling positively.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian