Thursday, November 10, 2011

Temple squeaks past Miami

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Magazine

Believe it or not, the known universe did pause for a few hours on Wednesday night so that some relatively meaningless college football games could be played.

In Philadelphia, more than three hours to the southeast of State College, a slumping Temple Owls squad appeared to finally learn what it is to stay strong and finish strong, claiming a 24-21 decision over Miami of Ohio.

Despite the loss of star running back Bernard Pierce, the Owls (6-4, 3-3 MAC) snapped a two-game slide -- which endangered their bowl hopes -- thanks to Matt Brown and quarterback Chris Coyer.

Brown ripped off a career-best 123 yards and the deciding score early in the fourth quarter on 24 carries, and Coyer ended 10-of-19 for 92 yards but rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown late in the first half.

It managed to supersede a 364-yard performance from RedHawks signal-caller Zac Dysert, who threw for three scores but was picked off twice as Miami (4-6, 3-3), had its two-game win streak snapped.

Nick Harwell set two school records in the loss -- with 15 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to overcome the home squad.

In the past couple seasons, a meeting with Ohio University usually spelled doom for what had
been Al Golden's squad.

In 2009, a loss cost them a shot at the conference title. Last season, it cost them a shot at a bowl berth. But this season, with Steve Addazio at the controls, the defeat at the hands of the Bobcats, a two-game slide, and the memory of the collapse of the last two years spurred some inspired play.

Temple moved ahead for good on the second play of the second quarter, when Coyer connected with Deon Miller for a 10-yard score and 10-7 advantage. This came after Miami seized control thanks to a 29-yard hookup between Dysart and Harwell.

But the Owls kept pressing and assumed a 17-7 edge with just over five minutes to play in the first half as Coyer called his own number and rolled in for a nine-yard score. Earlier on, Dysert was called upon to try and convert a 4th-and-12 from the Temple 40, but was sacked for a huge loss back across midfield.

McManus then missed a 38-yard try, then two punts followed. Dysert then threw into the hands of Adrian Robinson, who returned the ball inside the 10. One play later, Coyer hit the end zone.

Dysert hit Givens for a 25-yard connection to get the visitors back within a field goal, but the big break never happened.

The RedHawks quarterback was intercepted again late in the third, and Temple gained control at Miami's 30.

They went up 24-14 just over a minute into the fourth quarter, capping that drive, after Matt Brown rolled in from the two, but Dysert and Harwell finished off a drive with 4:15 to play on a 14-yard score with 4:15 remaining.

Still, the visitors were kept off the field for the remainder after Brown rushed for a pair of first downs, one a three-yard gain on second down, then the final nail in the coffin on a 10-yard scamper on a 3rd-and-8 just after the two-minute warning.

On the opening drive of the contest, Givens coughed up the football and Temple recovered at its own 40-yard-line. Seven plays later, Brandon McManus split the uprights from 32 yards out for a 3-0 game.

Miami was unbowed, and moved 90 yards on its opening possession to take a 7-3 advantage after Dysert connected with Harwell on a 29-yard touchdown.

Notes: Temple reached the six-win plateau for the third straight season -- the first time it has occurred since the Owls won nine, eight and six games, respectively, from 1973-75 under Wayne Hardin...The Owls host Army on November 19...Miami hosts Western Michigan next Wednesday.

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