Temple football is creating some serious noise in its first season back in the Big East since 2004. With a 17-14 win in overtime against UConn on Saturday afternoon, the Owls have now won their first two Big East games for the first time ever and sit on top of the conference with Louisville and Rutgers.
"There's a lot of fight and will on 10th and Diamond. We fought our way back from a first quarter in which we totaled 11 yards on offense, our guys never quit, we grinded and got back into the game, it was great to see", said Coach Addazio after the game.
Temple got in an early 14-0 hole in the first quarter as UConn out-gained (yards) the Owls 192 to 11. UConn QB Chandler Whitmer was 8-10 for 159 yards and two TDs during that span, as he methodically moved the Huskies attack. After the sluggish start for the Owls, the second quarter was a lot better. The defense started to put pressure on Whitmer, led by freshman linebacker Tyler Matakevish, who had a game-high 19 tackles - his second straight game totaling double digit tackles. The defense allowed the early touchdowns in the first but buckled down the rest of the game, not allowing UConn to sniff the end zone again.
Senior running back Montel Harris began to establish the running game for Temple. On Temple's first scoring drive, it was Harris who provided the big plays. First, with a 33-yard outburst to take the ball to the Uconn 32 yard line, and then, just two plays later, he broke off another big run all the way to the end zone to cut the UConn lead in half. Harris was the Owls' biggest offensive threat all game as he compiled 142 rushing yards on 30 carries.
The Owls were helped all game by UConn's ineffective kicking game. Chad Christen missed four costly field goals in the three point loss, which each got more devastating as the game went on. Temple was not taking advantage of these misses, however, because the offense was stagnant in the third quarter and also most of the fourth quarter.
Finally, with under three minutes to play in the fourth quarter, Temple broke the field position game as Chris Coyer engineered a 12 play, 72-yard drive to tie the game at 14 with 10 seconds remaining. Temple converted two huge fourth down conversations, and fought off a few offensive pass interference calls during the drive. Coyer, who was inconsistent all afternoon, rallied the troops, passing for 60 of his 126 yards on this final drive.
All the momentum was with the Owls going into overtime and they took care of business quickly. UConn got the ball first and Christen again let the Huskies down, missing a chip shot 28-yard field goal. This opened the door for Temple, as it started its drive on the Huskies' 25 yard line only needing a field goal to win. After a few Montel Harris runs to get the ball to the 12 yard line, Coach Addazio left it in the hands of his reliable kicker Brandon McManus (who Addazio said was the best kicker in the country in his post game press conference). McManus put it right through the uprights and the game was over; Temple had won back-to-back Big East games for the first time ever.
"This team has got that fight in them that will in them, they got that stuff that's a great foundation for the building of a program. It wasn't pretty, in fact at times it was downright ugly, but the moral of the story here is we found a way to win", Addazio added after the game.
Temple now goes for three wins in a row against 15th ranked Rutgers Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Finincial Field in Phildelphia. This will be a huge test for the Owls and a barometer to see if this team is a true contender in the Big East Conference.