PHILADELPHIA, November 9, 2011 – The Temple Owls found themselves in a must-win situation against the Miami Red Hawks in a MAC battle at Lincoln Financial Field. When in that situation there are things the team must-do; keep the pressure on when leading, answer challanges by the opponent, and play good defense and get turnovers. Temple did those things to take a 24 -21 win over the Red Hawks. With the win Temple becomes bowl eligible for the third straight season.
“I’m proud of the way our kids battled,” Temple Coach Steve Addazio said. “At some point in every season there are games that you have to win. We found a way to win that football game. It might not seem much to you, but to me that’s a marker, a marker you have to have.”
Temple was able to keep the pressure on Miami once they got ahead in the game. The Owls did so behind their running game. The Cherry and White ran for 218 yards on 42 carries. Junior Running Back Matt Brown put up 123 yards on 24 rushes as he started for the injured Bernard Pierce. Freshman Quarterback Chris Coyer ran 16 times for 97 yards in his first start of his career. Each player socred a touchdown. The Defense gave up 428 offensive yards, but got big plays as Senior Linebacker Adrian Robinson and Sophomore Defensive Back Zamel Johnson got key interceptions. Temple recovered the only fumble of the game.
The Owls had to respond early. Miami took a 7 – 3 lead in the first quarter as Quarterback Zac Dysert threw a 29 yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Nick Harwell with 3:33 to play in the first quarter. The pass capped a 12 play, 90 yard drive in 5:58 giving the lead back to the visiting Red Hawks. Temple responded to the challenge with a 10 play, 66 yard drive of their own to move back in front 10 – 7 early in the second quarter. Freshman Quarterback Chris Coyer found Sophomore Wide Receiver Deon Miller for a 10 yard touchdown pass. Coyer keyed the drive by running for 46 yards in the possession. Later in the quarter Temple scored again on a 9 yard touchdown run by Coyer set up by the Robinson interception at the Miami 23 yard line giving the ball to the offense at the 9 yard line. The one-play drive gave Temple the 17 – 7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter Miami closed to within 3 points at 17 – 14 when Dysert completed a 25 yard touchdown pass to Wide Receiver Chris Givens. The Red Hawks appeared to be driving for another score. With a 2nd and 9 from the Temple 36 Dysert targeted Givens who got his hands on the ball, but couldn’t hold it. The ball popped up and was snared by Johnson for an interception that he returned to the Miami 30 yard line, and was the key turning point in the game.
“We try to make every play,” said Johnson the turnover that ended the Miami drive. “We know their offense is on scholarship and is going to make plays. We just had to keep making plays, and we eventually did.”
On the ensuing drive Temple for the deciding points on a 2 yard fourth quarter touchdown run by Matt Brown getting a 24 – 14 lead.
It was up to the running game to ice the game for Temple when Miami got a 14 yard touchdown pass from Dysert to Harwell with 3:57 on the clock making the score 24 – 21. Once Temple got the ball they were able to run out the clock out with six running plays that got four first downs. Brown carried the ball five times for 22 yards. Coyer ran for 11.
“It was very important,” said Brown. “With the clock at 4 minutes we needed to control the ball to win the game. That’s what was on my mind, get the first down and control the ball.”
“Between Matt Brown and the offensive line and how they blocked, it was just tremendous, probably the best sequence we have run all year,” said Coyer.
Miami had 364 passing yards and 3 touchdowns by Dysert. Harwell caught 15 passes for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns both set school records. However, the Temple Defense battled back by recording 7 sacks in the game. Robinson had 2 sacks. Senior Defensive End Morkeith Brown also had 2 sacks. Senior Linebacker Stephen Johnson, Senior Linebacker Tahir Whitehead, and Junior Safety Justin Gildea each recorded a sack. Temple won the turnovers 3 – 0.
“We knew our defense was going to come through,’ Robinson said. “We just needed to be patient. We became patient and it just came to us.”
With the win Temple moves past Miami into second place in the MAC East with a 4 – 3 conference record. The Owls improve to 6 – 4 overall. Temple plays their next game at home on November against Army before finishing the regular season at home against Kent State.
“I thought our team battled to get our sixth win and give us an opportunity to get number seven, and that’s where our focus is right now,” said Addazio.
Written By: Glenn Papazian