PHILADELPHIA - September 1, 2011 – The annual battle for the Mayor’s Cup has been a hard-fought game. The 2011 edition had the added mystery of what each team would be like for the season. Both Temple and Villanova had a new factor. For Temple they had graduation and a new coaching staff. Villanova lost players on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense where the players who played deep into the post season were no longer there. It gamed was decided by what the teams had on the field, and Temple had Senior Running Back Bernard Pierce who ran for 147 yards on 20 carries and 3 touchdowns as the Cherry and White claimed the Mayor’s Cup with a 42 – 7 win over Villanova in front of 32,638 in attendance at Lincoln Financial Field.
“I think he is as talented as any of the backs I’ve seen in the conferences I’ve been in,” Temple Coach Steve Addazio said about the abilities of Pierce. “He’s got talent, he’s big, he’s got speed, he can make you miss. He has those qualities. I was proud of him today, he ran real hard, driving and spinning for extra yards, tight with the ball. He did a great job, and is one of the top backs in the country.”
The Temple defense played a role in the win forcing 4 Wildcat turnovers. Temple limited Villanova to 275 yards, 122 running and 153 passing.
“Turnovers are always key,” Addazio said. “We had three interceptions and a fumble recovery on defense. That’s huge for us. When you do that, you are changing the momentum of the game. We were fortunate those things happened to us.”
“Our defensive linemen and linebacker put pressure on their quarterback, and that gave me the opportunity to make the plays I did,” said Senior Safety Kevin Kroboth who intercepted 2 Villanova passes. Kroboth contributed 5 tackles. “They put me in a position to do that.”
The first turnover of the game for the Wildcats came in the first quarter, Villanova moved the ball to Temple’s 30 yard line. On 4th down Villanova Quarterback Redshirt Freshman Dustin Thomas was intercepted by Junior Defensive Back Justin Gildea. The Owls responded with a 7 play, 75 yard drive in 3:23. Pierce had a 19 yard run to put the ball into Villanova territory at the 37. Three plays later Junior Quarterback Mike Gerardi hit Sophomore Wide Receiver Deon Miller over the middle for 37 yards a touchdown giving Temple a 7 – 0 lead.
Then Peirce began to put his impact on the game. In the second quarter after a Villanova fumble, Pierce scored his first touchdown of the game on a 19 yard run. Just before halftime Pierce took the ball 22 yards for a touchdown scoring with 46 seconds remaining capping an 8 play 46 yard drive putting the Owls in front 21 – 0. the run gave the Junior running back 116 yards rushing in the half.
“Going into the locker room this gave us a cushion,” said Gerardi. “We wanted to come out in the second half and continue doing what we were doing.”
Temple came out in the second half and scored on the first drive of the half as Gerardi found Streater down the right side for a 47 yard touchdown pass increasing the lead to 28 – 0. Later in the quarter Pierce found the endzone for the third time on a 20 yard scamper up the middle capping a 6 play 54 drive as the Owls took a 35 – 0 lead after three-quarters of play.
In the fourth quarter Sophomore Quarterback Chris Coyer entered the game. His impact was felt immediately as Coyer scored on a 68 yard touchdown run as the Owls went ahead 42 – 0.
Villanova got on the scoreboard with 7:57 on the clock as Thomas scored on a 4 yard run capping an 11 play, 71 yard drive over 4:17.
Temple finished with 475 yards of total offense, 240 rushing and 235 passing yards. Gerardi completed 14 of 20 passes for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior Tight End Evan Rodriguez caught 6 passes for 68 yards. Streater gained 68 yards on 2 receptions and had a touchdown. Miller hauled in 4 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. Temple did not commit a turnover in the game. Their clean play was important since it was their first game under Addazio.
“We had three penalties, none serious,” Gerardi said. “If you do that in a game, limit turnovers, there is a good chance that you will be in the ball game.”
The offensive leader for Villanova was Thomas who ran for 59 yards, passed for 109, and had a reception for 44 yards. The first time starter scored the only touchdown for the Blue and White, but he did have 3 passes intercepted.
Temple looked sharp, and Villanova looked young.
“We are a rebuilding team,” said Villanova Coach Andy Talley. “One thing I found out in my years of playing Division 1-A teams that it is never good to play them when you are cycling back up and are in rebuilding mode because things can cascade on you. I knew the game could get away from us early.”
It did not help Villanova that Senior Wide Receiver Norman White was lost for the season with a foot injury suffered in a practice.
The Owls are 1 – 0 and prepare for a game at Akron on September 10. Villanova prepares for a game that day at Towson.
Written By: Glenn Papazian