Temple Football

December 30, 2009 by · Comments Off on Temple Football 

Temple Football:Temple football is going bowling today and no, it’s not just a postseason trip to the local alleys for a few players on winter break. The Temple Owls are actually in a bowl game, and it’s today. Bowling. Temple. Today.

This next statement is not to undermine the quality of season the 9-3 Owls had this year, but the fact that Temple is playing UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl…on a Tuesday…in late December…in Washington, D.C. with a local kickoff time of 4:30 p.m. proves there are just too many bowl games. Temple lost its first two games – to FCS stalwart Villanova and then-#5 Penn State – before rattling off nine-straight victories over MAC opponents until a regular-season ending loss to Ohio in a game that would have gotten them into the MAC title game. But they’re bowl eligible, so darn it if there isn’t a bowl for them!

Now let’s look at UCLA for one second. The 6-6 Bruins traveled across the country over the Christmas holiday to play in a bowl game they were only invited to because Army couldn’t beat Navy to earn bowl eligibility. UCLA was the back-up plan to Army, so imagine how many fans will be crossing the country for this one. Add in the fact that the game is a 1:30 p.m. local start for UCLA fans still on the left coast (on a Tuesday, we’d like to remind you) and this game has all the makings of one of those ESPN Instant Classics. Make sure you save this tape, WWL.

Ooh, to add to the excitement surrounding RFK Stadium today will be frigid temperatures, with a game-time forecast just around 35 degrees. Let’s not forget windy too. While the wind should subside around halftime, the temperatures by the fourth quarter will be below freezing. If there are more than 1,000 fans in the stands by game’s end, I will buy each one of them a hot chocolate (note: this is not a binding contract).

When you’re UCLA, you shouldn’t have to settle for flying across the country to play in the EagleBank Bowl in DC. But for a team that has just two bowl victories since 1997 and finished 4-8 lastseason , holding up a trophy on the front cover of your media guide is probably worth the trip – empty stands in the background or not. After all, a trophy is a trophy.

And that’s precisely why Temple should win this game. This isn’t just a trophy to Temple Football. UCLA’s bowl history is draped with Roses and Fiestas and Cotton. Safe the first-ever Sugar Bowl where #3 Temple – under stewardship from legendary coach Pop Warner – lost to #13 Tulane on January 1, 1935, Temple’s bowl history is far from illustrious. In fact, there’s only one other game in Temple’s bowl history, coming 30 years ago in the Garden State Bowl at Giants Stadium where the Owls beat another team from California who had to fly across the country to play a cold-weather East Coastbowl game in December – that time the lucky victim was the Cal Bears, who, coincidentally, finished the season at 6-6 in 1979.

Thirty years without so much as an appearance in one of these postseason exhibition games can make a program pretty hungry. And that’s not to say Temple didn’t have good teams, or good players, in the last 30 years. Remember Paul Palmer, the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Vinny Testaverde? He was Temple’s all-time leading rusher, before sending the program back to anonymity after admitting he took money from an agent during his seniorseason . Temple forfeited six games from that year and expunged all his awards and records from their history books and really never recovered. This old SI story (linked from Temple Football Forever) of former Temple head coach, current Steelers offensive coordinator, and coincidentally my old neighbor, Bruce Arians is an interesting look into what life was like for a school wanting to be big time, but never really figuring out how.

The fact of the matter is, Temple is a city school without the proper resources or facilities to succeed at a major-conference level. That’s the reason the BIG EAST dumped them – they had no facilities, no stadium and no fans. Temple rented space from the Eagles and never truly had a home at the Vet, which for Temple games from the late 90s and into the early 2000s, was the most depressing place on Earth. Trust me, I was there for some of them. A lease deal to play games in Lincoln Financial Field didn’t save the team from BIG EAST execution, because state-of-the-art NFL stadium or not, nobody was coming to the games. Eventhis year, for a 9-3 season , Temple is averaging just 17,379 fans. And what’s worst is that Temple was almost eligible for the bowl because of record on the field, but ineligible because of its NCAA academic record off it.

It seems, however, that the Golden Era has changed the fortunes of Temple Football both on the field and in the classroom, as the team performed so well in both areas that the future once again (finally) looks bright for the Owls. In one of 34 bowl games taking place thisseason , Temple has a chance to beat UCLA and finally become relevant again. How long that relevance lasts, of course, depends on whether Al Golden takes over for JoePa in State College next year, or the year after. Success is fleeting, after all.

Eaglebank Bowl

December 30, 2009 by · Comments Off on Eaglebank Bowl 

6a00d8341c630a53ef0128768e5471970c-500wiEaglebank Bowl:Nothing much happens the rest of the way, and UCLA wins the EagleBank Bowl, 30-21, to finish the season 7-6. Temple drops to 9-4.

UCLA 30, Temple 21 (4:30 remaining in fourth quarter)

A woeful possession for Temple, which lost six yards in three plays and, facing fourth and 16 from its own 17, had to punt. The snap went way over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.

UCLA 28, Temple 21 (6:00 remaining in fourth quarter)

After a punt, Temple took possession on its 18. Two sacks and penalty later, it was third and 20 from the 8. Owls quarterback Vaughn Charlton dropped back to pass, and found a wide open Akeem Ayers. Unfortunately for Owls fans, Ayers plays for UCLA, and he strolled into the end zone for the easiest interception return you’ll ever see. The Bruins then converted the two-point try to take a seven-point lead.

Temple 21, UCLA 20 (12:31 remaining in fourth quarter)

UCLA gets a little closer with a 42-yard field goal by Kai Forbath, his 37th consecutive from within 50 yards. But the Bruins could have had much more. With a first down at the Temple 23-yard line, tailback Johnathan Franklin slipped on a draw play. He gained four yards, but had a huge hole. Guard Nick Ekbatani was then called for a false start. The pass protection broke down on second down. Tight end Logan Paulsen then had the ball go off his finger tips in the end zone.

Temple 21, UCLA 17 (end of third quarter)

UCLA is hanging close through three quarters because of big plays by its defense. Reggie Carter stopped Temple on a fourth down at the Bruins’ nine-yard line and safety Rahim Moore intercepted a deep pass on the UCLA seven.

The Bruins trail, 21-17, heading into the fourth quarter.

Temple 21, UCLA 17 (6:43 remaining, third quarter)

UCLA stops Temple on a fourth-and-one play at the Bruins’ nine-yard line. Linebacker Reggie Carter plugs the hole and stops Matt Brown for no gain.

Temple 21, UCLA 17 (11:59 remaining, third quarter)

UCLA brought something with it out of the locker room for the second half … some consistency on offense.

On fourth-and-one at the Temple 32, quarterback Kevin Prince found Terrence Austin in the flat. A crushing block by wide receiver Taylor Embree set Austin loose on the sidelines for the score.

Temple 21, UCLA 10 (halftime)

Temple mismanaged the its last possession, giving the ball back to UCLA with 17 seconds left. Kevin Prince completed two passes for 33 yards to set up kicker Kai Forbath, who hits a 40-yard field goal with one second to send UCLA into the locker room with some momentum, trailing 21-10.

Temple 21, UCLA 7

Temple put together an impressive 85-yard drive, mixing passes and runs, to take the lead. Quarterback Vaughn Charlton completed three of four passes for 42 yards, including a 21-yard completion to Delano Green on third down to put the Owls on the UCLA 11-yared line. Tailback Bernard Pierce scored on the next play, picking his way through the UCLA defense. Pierce had 24 yards rushing on the drive.

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince, who was shaken up on the Bruins’ last possession, remains in the game. Prince’s second pass is intercepted by Marquise Liverpool. Temple has ball on the 15-yard line.

UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft is loosening up after Kevin Prince was leveled on a third-down pass play. Trainers are working on Prince’s chin and administering smelling salt.

UCLA 7, Temple 7, end of first quarter

Quarterbacks have had the big moments in the first quarter, which ended tied, 7-7. Temple’s Vaughn Charlton has completed seven of eight passes for 100 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown pass to Steve Marneri. UCLA’s Kevin Prince has completed three of five passes for 48 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Rosario.

UCLA 7, Temple 7

Two big plays get the Bruins even. Terrence Austin returns a punt 47 yards. On the first play, Kevin Prince hits Nelson Rosario, who makes a juggling catch, before loping into the end zone on a 46-yard touchdown play.

Temple 7, UCLA 0

Temple takes the opening kickoff and drives 80 yards in six plays. The Bruins were expecting the Owls to grind out. Instead two big pass plays got Temple on the board.

Quarterback Vaughn Charlton connected with James Nixon, who split defensive backs Alterraun Verner and Sheldon Price, for a 43-yard game. Vanughn then found tight end Steve Maneri at the eight-yard line. Marneri brushed off safety Tony Dye and dragged Price into the end for a 26-yard touchdown pass.