PHILADELPHIA, PA. 9/9/2017 – It was the second game of the season for each team, but it had the excitement of a season opener, a city rivalry renewed. The Temple Owls hosted the Villanova Wildcats, ranked #10 in the FCS, at the Linc. Villanova usually opened the year against FBS schools, but this year they started with a win at Lehigh. Temple was coming off a road loss at Notre Dame. Time to get a city game in the books.
And this one lived up to the thriller expectations. Villanova continues to give the bigger schools a tussle. The game came down to a 49-yard field goal by Owls kicker Aaron Boumerhi, a career-long, with just one minute on the clock. for a 16 – 13 decision. His game winning kick came after the Wildcats erased a 13 – 3 deficit on a 34-yard field goal by Drew Kresge with 3:29 remaining.
“Villanova is a really good football team and they fought to the end,” said Temple Coach Geoff Collins. “In the first half our defense played lights out. Our kids fought to the end like they do.”
“I tried to not to think about the last kick,” Boumerhi said.”I was focusing on putting it through the uprights and giving the team a win.”
After the Villanova score Temple took over at their 26 yard line at the 3:23 mark. Nova seemed to have the momentum. With 3:16 to play and overtime looking like a probability Owls quarterback Logan Marchi unleashed a pass down the right side line towards wide receiver Ventell Bryant who had a defender on him. Bryant hauled in a one handed catch good for 29 yards and a first down at the Villanova 45. Three plays later and 7 yards closer, Bouhmeri converted the decider.
“I told the coach that if they left me one on one, give me a chance and I’ll make a play for the team,” said Bryant.
“He is an explosive player,” Collins said about Bryant. “That catch on the sidelines, not too many humans in this country that could make that catch, under duress, having the poise.”
Both defenses were stingy in the contest. The Wildcats averaged 4.5 yards per play on offense through three quarters. The Owls average gain was 6.5 yards. Nova punted three times, turned the ball over on downs twice, and missed a field goal. Temple punted four times.
In the fourth quarter the Villanova offense came alive as quarterback Zach Bednarczyk completed 10 of 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. The scoring toss to wide receiver Taurus Phillips with 10:18 in the quarter brought Villanova to within 13 – 10. The game-tying field goal by Kresge capped a 9-play, 36-yard drive covering 4:40.
“That’s a tough one the way it ended,” said Villanova Coach Mark Ferrante. “I was proud of the way our guys came out after halftime with resiliency.”
Defensively, the Owls limited the Wildcats to 20 rushing yards, but did give up 382 yards in the air, mostly in the last 15 minutes. However, Nova allowed 79 rushing yards and 274 passing.
On offense Bryant had a team-leading 79 yards on 7 catches. Marchi went to the air 34 times completing 20 for 274 yards. Fullback Nick Sharga gained 17 yards, but his one-yard touchdown plunge with one second left before halftime gave Temple some breathing room and a 10 – 0 lead at intermission.
Bednarczyk was 27 of 41 on the day for 382 yards. wide receiver Changa Hodge caught 4 passes for a team-best 100 yards.
“A lot of people felt we could win this game, you could sense it on the sidelines.” Bednarczyk siad. “I never doubted it. It’s a tough loss, but we battled to the end.”
Both teams are 1 – 1 on the season. The Cherry and White have a short week as they will play UMass on Friday night at the Linc. The Blue and White host Lafayette on Saturday night.
Written By: Glenn Papazian