PHILADELPHIA, PA 10/20/2012 – For the Temple Owls it was a chance to play for the top spot in the Big East Conference against #19 Rutgers. A regional rival that would show the Owls belong in the upper echelon of the conference. For a half Temple did show that leading 10 – 0 at halftime against the Scarlet Knights. The second half was different. Rutgers scored touchdowns on four straight possessions, then capped it with a defensive touchdown defeating Temple 35 – 10 in front of 35,145 at the Linc.
“Obviously, it’s a tale of two halves here,” said Temple Coach Steve Addazio. “We came out in the first half and played really hard, physical, and tough. We came in at halftime with a 10 – 0 lead and felt like we had something good going. In the third quarter and that didn’t go really well. In the third quarter we were not very good. It;s hard to watch a team you watched in the first two periods and watch the team in the third period and ask ‘what happened there?’ ‘What was that?’ But it happened.”
The Owls had a chance to score on their first possession and take the momentum. At the Rutgers 27 yard line Temple Junior quarterback Chris Coyer fumbled the ball away. The Owls would recover and take the lead with 36 seconds remaining in the quarter when Coyer found Junior tight end Cody Booth with a 4 yard touchdown pass, the second of his career. The play finished an 8 play, 46 yard drive taking 3:36. Late in the second quarter Senior kicking specialist Brandon McManus converted a 49 yard field goal, atoning for an earlier miss that put Temple in front 10 – 0 at halftime.
Then the second half began. The Scarlet Knights started with a 6 play, 75 yard drive. The touchdown came on a 32 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gary Nova to wide receiver Tim Wright. Forcing Temple to punt on the next possession Rutgers took over at their 11 yard line. The Knights drove through the Owls. From their own 45 yard line Nova hit wide receiver Mark Harrison with a 23 yard pass to the Temple 32. Nova followed that by completing a pass to running back Jawan Jamison out of the backfield. Jamison took the ball in for a touchdown with 5:09 on the clock. The 9 play, 89 yard drive that took 4:43 put Rutgers in front 14 – 10. The Rutgers defense forced a turnover when corner back Logan Ryan intercepted a Coyer pass setting the ball at the Temple 49 yard line. Seven plays later Nova found Harrison in the middle of the endzone with a 5 yard scoring strike. The third quarter ended with The Knight ahead 21 – 10, and had all of the momentum.
Rutgers scored their fourth consecutive touchdown as Nova completed a 10 yard pass to tight end D.C. Jefferson at the 11:41 mark of the fourth quarter. The short drive was set up by a partially blocked punt. The Scarlet Knights closed out the scoring when Coyer was sacked by defensive tackle Jamil Merrell, and fumbled. Linebacker Khaseem Green picked up the ball and ran it 20 yards for the touchdown.
“Offensively, I think it was pretty clear that we weren’t too far away,” Rutgers Coach Kyle Flood about the second half turnaround. “In offensive football when you aren’t too far away it seems like you are miles away. We felt that we could execute a little bit better, play just a little bit harder, and we would be able to make some plays offensively.”
The second half comeback was keyed by Jamison who ran for 114 yards, 73 in the second half. Jamison also caught 5 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Nova completed 17 of 27 passes for 232 yards and 4 touchdowns to four different receivers. Wright hauled in 4 passes for 68 yards and one score.
Senior running back Montel Harris led Temple with 81 rushing yards. Coyer ran for 30 yards and completed 7 of 14 passes for 65 yards. Coyer had one touchdown, one interception, and two lost fumbles.
“I can’t throw an interception and I can’t turn the ball over,” said Coyer. “I had three turnovers and we aren’t going to win a game like that. “We came out and were playing a good team, give credit to them. They turned the momentum on us and we weren’t able to get it back.”
Starting free safety Vaughn Carraway did not play for the Owls as he was suspended for a game due to a flagrant penalty in the previous game. Besides losing an experienced player, it thinned the personnel available for the defense.
“We look like we fatigued and ran out of gas.” Addazio said. “We’re fairly thin and depleted right now. We’re missing a couple of guys up front and Vaughn in the back. We’re a little depleted right now, but it is what it is.”
Temple drops to 3 – 3 for the season. The Owls suffered their first Big East loss of the campaign, and are 2 – 1. Rutgers leads the Big East with a 4 – 0 record and have won 7 without a loss. Temple travels to Pittsburgh for the next game against the Panthers. Coach Addazio wants to put this game behind them and get ready for Pitt.
“We’ve got to show up Monday and we’ve got to roll,” said Addazio. “We took the number 19 team nose to nose and played with them in the first half. We’ve got to get back to work. You get hit in the mouth and you’ve got to come back and fight. That’s what you do. That’s what it is. We’ve just got to keep playing.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian