Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fourth-quarter surge sends Penn State over Temple

University Park, PA -- One of these days, the Owls will get it right in Happy Valley, or anywhere for that matter. For now, it's 73 years and counting without a victory over the Nittany Lions.

A 38-yard TD run from Akeel Lynch followed by an 8-yard jaunt from Bill Belton less than a minute later turned a gut-churning 6-6 deadlock into a near runaway as Penn State eventually emerged with a 30-13 decision over Temple on Saturday from Beaver Stadium.

The win pushed PSU into bowl consideration, while the loss made Temple's efforts to secure a postseason berth a little more murky.

Lynch ran for a game-high 130 yards, Belton added 92 yards on the ground for the Nittany Lions (6-4), who won for the second straight week and are now bowl eligible for the first time since the tumultuous 2011 season. Christian Hackenberg completed only 12- of-26 passes for 112 yards and two interceptions in the victory.

The Owls (5-5) lost for the fourth time in their last five games as P.J. Walker tossed four interceptions. Jalen Fitzpatrick finished with a game-high 113 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches in defeat.

After the teams traded field goals in the first quarter, PSU's Sam Ficken kicked a 50-yarder as time expired in the half to send the Nittany Lions into the locker room with a 6-3 lead despite a couple of turnovers.

Temple's Austin Jones missed a 42-yard attempt on the opening possession of the second half. But he made a 25-yarder on the Owls' next series after Tyler Matakevich's interception and return set Temple up with the ball on the PSU 16.

Penn State needed only two plays to find the end zone on its next possession, as Belton ripped off a 37-yard run on first down and then Lynch scored on a 38-yard burst.

Two plays later, Adrian Amos intercepted Walker to give the ball right back to the Nittany Lions at the Temple 8. Belton scored a rushing TD on the next snap to give Penn State a 20-6 lead with 5:19 remaining in the third quarter.

The frenetic scoring pace continued on the first play of the very next series, as Walker tossed a 75-yard scoring strike to Fitzpatrick to make it a 20-13 game.

But Walker was intercepted on each of Temple's next two drives, the latter of which true freshman Grant Haley returned 30 yards for a touchdown to give Penn State a 27-13 lead with just under 14 minute to play in regulation.

Temple lost a fumble on its next drive, which set up a 21-yard field goal from Ficken.

Walker was intercepted yet again on the next series, although the Nittany Lions could not capitalize on that one as Ficken's 42-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Praise Martin-Oguike. The Nittany Lions defense was able to seal it with a turnover on downs.

The Owls will get a bye next week and then will need to win one of their final two games to become bowl eligible. They wrap up the regular season home against Cincinnati and then at Tulane.

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