Saturday, October 16, 2010

Temple survives Bowling Green

By John McMullen

Philadelphia (The Phanatic Magazine) - Junior Mike Gerardi stepped in as Temple's quarterback and threw a pair of touchdown passes as the Owls survived against woeful Bowling Green, 28-27, in front of 23,045 in their annual homecoming game at Lincoln Financial Field.

Senior cornerback Marquise Liverpool broke up a two-point conversion attempt in the end zone with no time remaining to preserve the victory.

Leading by a touchdown late in the game Temple nearly coughed it up when Falcons' quarterback Matt Schilz converted a huge 4th-and-16 Hail Mary to Kamar Jorden down to the 4-yard line with 10 seconds to go.

Two plays later the Owls blew a coverage and Schilz found a wide open Calvin Wiley for the TD as time expired. Instead of kicking the extra point and playing for overtime, however, Bowling Green head coach Dave Clawson went for the win. Schilz went back to the well, looking for Wiley on the slant but this time  Liverpool was there and Temple escaped with the one-point win.

"No it didn’t (surprise him)," Golden said of Clawson's decision to go for the win.  "He knows his team better than anybody.  I think they were probably a little banged up and I think he thought it was his best chance to have a shot from the three yard line.  Certainly they completed some passes down there inside the ten and he thought that was his best chance. I thought that was the right decision if I was him.”

Gerardi, who replaced Chester Stewart in the first quarter, finished the day 9-of-15 for 163 yards and the two scores for the Owls (5-2, 2-1 MAC), who won their ninth straight home game, one shy of the school record, and for the 13th time in their last 16 regular season outings.

“I thought Gerardi came in and did a nice job, and that was his first time," Golden said.  "We left a couple plays out there and have to convert on third down a little better.  I thought we protected him better, but we have to make a couple plays there.”

Bernard Pierce added 106 yards rushing and another TD for Temple, while Rod Streater had four receptions for 88 yards and a score.

Schilz finished 30-for-51 for 287 yards and a TD for the Falcons (1-6, 0-3 MAC), who came is as a three-touchdown underdog. Willie Geter ran for 61 yards and a TD while Jorden had 12 receptions for 143 yards.

With the game even at 14 in the third quarter Temple got a big break on special teams when Bowling Green punter Bryan Wright couldn't handle a bad snap by Neal Dahlman inside the Falcons' 10-yard line. Instead of covering the ball, Wright attempted to scoop it up and run but James Nixon forced a fumble that rolled into the end zone where junior linebacker Quinten White Jr. recovered it for the touchdown, giving the Owls a 21-14 edge.

Temple then hitched its wagon to Pierce to extend the cushion. The Owls went 71 yards on eight plays, all runs, during their next possession before Pierce cashed things in with an 6-yard TD run to make it a 28-14 contest heading to the final frame.

BGU refused to go away, however, and made it a one score game with a methodical 16-play, 80-yard march that took nearly nine minutes. Jordan Hopgood plunged in from a yard out and the Falcons found themselves down 28-21 with 6:04 remaining.

Gerardi threw a strike to Michael Campbell on a big third-and-long that would have converted a first down but the receiver coughed it up and the Falcons' Calvin Marshall plucked the ball out of the air and returned it to the Temple 40, giving Bowling Green life with five minutes to go.

The Temple defense stiffened stopping a 4th-and-3 attempt and handing the ball back to the offense with 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Pierce, made a key mistake, however, running out of bounds on a second down play, stopping the clock.

When the Owls failed to convert Bowling Green got one more chance ending with the failed two-point conversion.

Golden promised changes after a lackadaisical 31-17 loss at fellow MAC heavyweight Northern Illinois last weekend, calling his team passionless and selfish.

Most speculated that Golden's ire was directed at Stewart, who has played poorly for most of the season and ran out of bounds on a key fourth down play against the Huskies, thinking it was third down.

When Temple took the field today, however, the lineup had a familiar feel other than Derek Dennis taking over at left tackle for the injured Steve Caputo, and Matt Brown continuing to start at tailback for Pierce, who continues to struggle with a balky ankle.

You could sense Golden would have liked to pull the trigger with Stewart but he just didn't have the options at signal caller. Last year's part-time starter, Vaughn Charlton, gained 25 pounds for a move to tight end, and
Stewart's caddies coming in, Gerardi and redshirt freshman Chris Coyer, had little experience.

But, Stewart's troubles continued in the first quarter, forcing Golden's hand. Bowling Green's Darius Smith pressured the embattled Stewart into a poor pass in the flat. Jovan Leacock undercut the throw, picked it off and raced 49 yards for a touchdown. The subsequent PAT attempt by Wright missed, however, and Temple found itself trailing 6-0.

When the Temple offense returned to the field the left-handed Gerardi, a redshirt junior, was at the controls. The Owls managed a first down on a pair of Brown carries and Gerardi completed two short passes but TU was unable to put much pressure on the Bowling Green defense.

“We were going to play him (Gerardi) anyway," Golden said.  "We were going to play him going into it.  It was going to be the next series.”

In that next series Bowling Green stacked the line, hoping to stop the running game. Gerardi took advantage by rolling right and finding a wide-open Streater behind the defense. The junior wideout scampered 80 yards for the score and TU had its first advantage, 7-6, with less than a minute gone in the second quarter.

Streater came up big on the Owls' next possession as well. Gerardi hit tight and Evan Rodriguez on a simple waggle and the 6-foot-4 Streater sprung him with an impressive block on Leacock. Rodriguez did the rest, rumbling 46 yards for a 14-6 Temple edge with 11:23 left until intermission.

Bowling Green failed to creep closer at intermission when Wright hooked a 43-yard field goal attempt with five seconds left in the second but did even the contest early in the third quarter. Jeter capped a drive helped along by two Temple personal fouls with a 12-yard TD run. Schilz then deadlocked things at 14, hitting Jorden on a slant for the two-point conversion.


*Bowling Green starting FB Zach Akenberger was carted off with 4:42 left in the second quarter with what looked like a serious left leg injury. Trainers put an aircast on the leg before removing Akenberger.

*The last time Temple had an 80-tard TD reception was back in 1998 when Devin Scott hooked up with Carlos Johnson against Virginia Tech.

*Under Golden Temple is now 4-1 in homecoming games. During his inaugural season in 2006, Golden recorded his first win and snapped a 20-game school losing streak with a 28-14 homecoming win over Bowling Green.

*Scouts from the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens were on hand.

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