Thursday, September 09, 2010

Temple tops CMU in OT

Tempe RB Bernard Pierce
By John McMullen

Philadelphia, Pa. (The Phanatic Magazine) - Less than a week after their thrilling season-opening win over city-rival Villanova in the Mayor's Cup, Temple kicked off its Mid-American Conference schedule by edging Central Michigan 13-10 in overtime.

The Chippewas, who are the reigning MAC champs, had the first chance in the extra frame but junior cornerback Kee-Ayre Griffin intercepted a Ryan Radcliff third down pass in the end zone. Brandon McManus, who also won last week's game with a late field goal, did it again, booting a 30-yarder to win it.

It was the first overtime win in Owls history (1-6) and the first time the club has started a season 2-0 since 1981.

Temple (2-0, 1-0 MAC) won the overtime coin toss and deferred. After CMU (1-1, 1-1) managed a first down, Griffin undercut a Radcliff pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage. The Owls were very conservative from there running Matt Brown five consecutive times before going to McManus, who calmly kicked the game-winner.

Brown finished with 48 yards on 16 carries while adding another 17 yards on four receptions. Bernard Pierce added 57 yards rushing and a TD while quarterback Chester Stewart was 16-of-22 for 151 yards but was sacked four times and fumbled twice.

The Owls had plenty of chances early but couldn't take advantage of a CMU team with a new coach and signal caller. Dan Enos has replaced the highly-regarded Butch Jones, who took over for Brian Kelly in Cincinnati, on the sidelines for the Chippewas while  Radcliff has the unenviable task of trying to replace star QB Dan LeFevour, who is now with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals.

Stewart immediately went to work from his own 11-yard line on Temple's first offensive play, using play action to find junior Rod Streater behind the CMU defense. Unfortunately, the ball was a bit underthrown and the Owls settled for a 56-yard gain. Things bogged down from there and McManus, the reigning MAC Special Teams Player of the Week, came up wide right on a 44-yard attempt.

Midway through the second quarter an illegal crack-back block on Streater erased a 6-yard Pierce TD run and McManus' early problems continued as he failed to salvage anything on the drive and misfired on a 38-yard attempt.

The third time was a charm for Temple, however, as it finally found the end zone when Pierce capped a 10-play, 69-yard drive with a nice 4-yard cutback run to make it a 7-0 game with 1:33 left in the first half.

Temple's failures would come back to haunt the club in the third quarter when Radcliff found Cody Wilson all alone in the middle of the field and the diminutive receiver scampered down to the Owls' 1-yard line for a 70-yard gain, before Paris Cotton squirted in to even the contest.

McManus finally found the range on Temple's next possession, booting a 31-yarder to give the Owls a 10-7 advantage with 2:17 left in the third quarter.

The Chippewas' kicker, Paul Mudgett, could and should have deadlocked things again early in the fourth but pushed a 27-yard field goal attempt wide right.

CMU then put together a methodical 15-play drive that relied heavily on Wilson in the Wildcat Offense before Temple finally stiffened and stopped things at the 14. Mudgett was equal to the task this time, nailing a 31-yard field goal to even things at 10 with 1:14 left.

While trying to force the action and get the win in regulation, Stewart rolled left and was hit by John Williams, who forced a fumble. CMU recovered at the Temple 35 with just 35 seconds left but were unable to put anything together as Temple DT Muhammad Wilkerson, who had two sacks in the game, forced Radcliff to fumble as time ran out in the fourth quarter.


OWL DROPPINGS:

*Central Michigan is now 2-1 versus the Owls.

*Golden upped his career record at Temple to 21-30.

*Junior middle linebacker Stephen Johnson made his first career interception in the first quarter.

*Temple has now won eight consecutive MAC games at Lincoln Financial Field. Since joining the MAC in 2007, the Owls own the league's best home record at 11-2.

*Scouts from the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers were on hand.

-You can contact John McMullen at jmcmullen@phanaticmag.com
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