PHILADELPHIA, PA. 10/31/2015 – The Temple Owls showed they belonged in the national spotlight. In the most anticipated college football game in decades #21/22 Temple lost a heart-breaker to the #9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 24 – 20. The deciding score for the Irish came with 2:09 remaining as quarterback DeShone Kizer completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller in the right corner of the endzone. An interception ended the Owls chances at the Notre Dame 45-yard line.
Although Temple did not get what they wanted, they showed a national television audience and 69,280 at the Linc that this team is worthy.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our football team,” said Temple Coach Matt Rhule. “I felt they fight, scratched, and clawed. We made some mistakes but proved we are a really good football team, one of the better teams in the country.”
“We can hang with anybody, we’ve known that from the beginning,” said linebacker Tyler Matakevich. “It is frustrating to know that we came up one play short.”
With 10:51 remaining in the fourth quarter Owls running back Jahad Thomas completed a 78-yard drive with a 1-yard run to tie the score at 17. On their ensuing possession the Cherry and White drove 42 yards to get the 20 – 17 lead on a 36-yard field goal by Austin Jones.
The game came down to that final Notre Dame drive.
“A lot of things went against our team, but we kept battling and battling to the last play,” Rhule said.
Apparently, Notre Dame was looking for a quick score to start the game. They got it by going 74 yards on the initial drive when quarterback DeShone Kizer ran for a 4-yard touchdown six minutes into the game. The 12-play scoring sequence was the first opening drive points allowed by Temple in over a year.
The Cherry and White have a philosophy of ‘next play.’ After an exchange of punts the Owls got their first points on the board on a 41-yard field goal by Austin Jones at the 2:25 mark, his longest of the season. The drive featured some trickery by Temple as quarterback P.J. Walker completed a flea-flicker to wide receiver Robby Anderson for 2 yards to the Notre Dame 26.
Following an exchange of punts The Irish were driving. With the ball at the 17 yard-line Kizer was intercepted by Owls defensive lineman Praise Martin-Oguike at the 6. It was the start of a 10-play scoring drive for the Cherry and White started by a 2 -yard run by running back Jahad Thomas and ended with a 17-yard strike from Walker to wide receiver Brandon Shippen with 6:17 left to halftime and a 10 – 7 lead.
Notre Dame quickly responded when Kizer to the ball 79 yards for a 14 – 10 lead. Notre Dame was looking for more, but Tyler Matakevich picked off Kizer at the Temple 10 just before halftime.
It was the first loss of the season for the Owls who are now 7 – 1. They will return to action next Friday, again on national television, as they will play SMU in Dallas. Despite the heart-break there is still much that Temple will play for this season.
“Our goal is to win the conference championship and at the end of the day this game has no effect on that,” Matakevich said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian