Toledo quarterback Phillip Ely (12) throws under pressure from Temple linebacker Avery Williams (2) in the first quarter of the Boca Raton Bowl NCAA college football game Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Boca Raton, Fla. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)
The # 24 Temple Owls (10-3,7-1) 19 Seniors had to have been working for this day from their 1st Spring Practice though the 1st year under Matt Rhule‘s, 2013 2-10 season, and now ending this already historic Temple Owls campaign w/ a Bowl game against the Toledo Rockets(9-2,6-2 MAC) in the balmy and soggy, 2nd Annual Boca Raton Bowl. “After the game, win, lose or draw, it will be a hard moment for me, a sentimental moment for me,” Rhule said this past week. “As I told people earlier these guys changed my life, changed my family’s life.”
Win and they would set one more record w/ 11 wins, first Top 25 finish in 36 years, and many personal bests at hand as well, so the team had much to motivate them.
But that was not to be on this night as they would have to settle for the 10 win season and a promise that this was just the beginning of what is hopefully a true rising of the Temple Football program.
The game started w/ the defenses holding sway, until Alex Starzyk‘s 51 yd punt downed at the 1 helped the Owls to great field position to start the 13 play 40 yd drive to come. It featured 6 straight rushes and then a 20 yd strike from P. J. Walker to Robby Anderson on 3rd and 11, down to the 13. But in what was to be the recurring motif for the night the Rockets defense stiffened so the Owls had to settle for an Austin Jones 29 yd FG to get on the board 1st w/ 1:13 left in the 1st pd, which ended w/ the score Temple 3 Toledo 0.
After a stifling 3 and out by the Temple D, the Toledo punter Nick Ellis, w/ some help by Temple not fielding the ball, had them pinned at the 9, a 64 yd punt. On the 2nd play Ja’Wuan Woodley forced a Jahad Thomas fumble and it went out the back of the end zone for a Rockets safety, swinging the momentum in Toledo’s favor. A free kick and 5 plays 55 yds later, the last play a Phillip Ely pass to Corey Jones for a 26 yd TD – helped again by “tackling” reminiscent of those other Birds that own Temple’s home, the Owls put themselves in a 9 to 3 hole, w/ 12:14 left until 1/2 time.
This one was billed as a battle of defenses and except for Toledo finding holes in the Temple D between the 20s – their TD came from outside the red zone – and Temple’s short field FG drive, that is just what the 1st half featured, and special teams lead to most of the scoring as the Rockets tacked on a 38 yd FG to make the score at the mid-way whistle, Toledo 12 – Temple 3.
Temple had been in this position many times this season and had usually prevailed by outscoring their opponents 243-88 in the 2nd half. The Owls opened that 2nd half scoring, getting as many yds on the drive, 67, as they did the whole 1st half, but still Toledo held them to only 3 pts. After a quick SDI by the Owls, they once again got good field position. They only had to go 37 yds in 7 plays before yet another Jones FG, this one from 35 out, got them to w/i 3 points of the Rockets at the 6:11 mark of the 3rd pd. Another SDI followed, this one a bit longer in the tooth, but the drive was finally stopped by a great defensive play by R-JR Nate L. Smith breaking up a pass in the end-zone, on 3rd and 12. The 3rd pd. came to an end w/ Temple 2nd and 10 at their own. 36, and the score Toledo 12- Temple 9.
The wrap-around drive was killed by too many Temple penalties, but another very good Starzyk punt. 71 yds, but one too far, kept the Rockets from winning the field position battle.
But one big play later it was the beginning of the end, a 20 yard catch and 60 yd dash behind DB Sean Chandler , by Cody Thompson, made that all for naught as the Rockets went up 19-9. The Temple offense would have to find some way to put up more than FG’s. The next promising drive though was stopped by Walker’s 1st int. on a tipped ball at the Toledo 26. Temple’s D then came up small just when it needed to pick up the offense, giving up a TD on 12 plays 74 yds, but just as important, 5 and 1/2 minutes off the clock to give Toledo an insurmountable 25-9 ( the PAT was blocked) lead w/ 5:46 left in the 4th qtr.
Temple did answer going 11 plays, 68 yds in only 2:56 ending w/ a 2 yd TD run by Kip Patton, followed by a 2 PT conversion to Anderson to lessen the score to 25-17 Toledo, making it a one score game. The ensuing on-side kick was chaotic, but in the end unsuccessful, and Temple then gave the score right back.
The score at the final whistle saw Toledo winning this one going away 32-17. In all phases of the game the Rockets were the better team on this night.
Temple’s offensive #s mean little in this one as they were just not good enough to do more than set themselves up for 3 FG’s, except the garbage time TD abetted by some Toledo penalties, so I will not bother noting them here,
Late in the 4th qtr NCAA All-Time Active leading tackler LB Tyler Matakevich (who turned 23 today) got his 12th tackle breaking the Temple record of 492 set by Steve Conjar (78-81) still the only FBS player this season to lead his team in tackles every game this season. How cool would it be to see him playing in Green next season at the Linc.
Austin Jones also set a Temple season record w/ his 22nd FG.
Once again my thanks go out to the good folks at PattisonAve.Com for allowing me the opportunity to post my scribblings here, and am thankful for the luck of this great Temple season to follow. I look forward to next season. Also thanks to my loyal readers – whoever you are – for sticking w/ me in my inaugural season doing this.
Now my thoughts turn back to the Phillies and I will be back in less than 60 days when the team reports to Clearwater for P&C for what could be a different, if not successful year, of finding out exactly what this team has after all the moves it made late last season and in the off-season. I hope you will follow me again then and as always look for me in the sports areas of sports-boards.net posting about the Eagles, Big 5 basketball, of course the Phillies, and all the other sports forums they have there.
For now I wish you all a great rest of the Holiday Season and of course my best wish is for Peace On Earth and Good Will Toward Men and Women.