In a mid season virtual “Must Win” game for the Temple Owls to stay in the AAC Eastern Division Championship race, it took a literal last minute drive for Temple to take their first lead of the game over the UCF Knights 26-25 with one second left on the clock. It was an astounding 0:32 second, 4 play, 70 yd drive with no time-outs left, ending with perhaps Phillip Walker‘s best throw of the night to Keith Kirkwood in the back of the end zone from 8 yds out, for a story book finish in the land of Disney. This followed three passes to Ventell Bryant of 20,16, and 26 yds to set up that final play.
After the teams traded TD’s in the first 6 minutes of the 1st qtr, Temple dug themselves a hole with dumb penalties – 2 personal fouls in a row led to UCF’s second TD drive that straddled the first two qtrs – and Temple found themselves down by 25-7 with still 12:34 left to go in the 2nd qtr. UCF had three TD drives of under 1:34 in that time, including one that ended quickly on a 61 yrd read-option run by UCF FR. QB McKenzie Milton.
Late in that 2nd qtr, though Temple’s D finally figured out the Knight’s offense and this allowed the Owls offense to score 19 unanswered points to get to the final result. Among those 19 points were the first two career FG’s by FR Walk-on Aaron Boumerhi, replacing the injured Austin Jones.
Final Stats: Due to technical difficulties w/ my laptop tonight I will not have as much PBP detail as is my wont or my usual end notes, but below are the team stat leaders and I will have more to say about this game in my preview on Wednesday this week, for the Friday Game.
Walker ended up 12/24, 167 yds, 7.0 Avg, 2 TD’s, 1 Int, which did not lead to any points for UCF. His leading receiver was Bryant, 5 catches for 94 yds – 52 coming on that last drive – 18.8 YPC, 0 TDs. Jahad Thomas was your top rusher, 27 carries for 120 yds, 4.4 YPR and one TD on a tough 7 yd run. He also scored on a 28 yd pass from Walker. TE Romond “Two Way” Deloatch had one catch for 7 yds, but more importantly 3 tackles – all for losses including 2 sacks, which along with Haason Reddick‘s usual outstanding play – 7 tackles, 5 solo including 2 sacks – led the Owls defensive resurgence after giving up the 25 points early.
Next Ups: As I said in my preview this kind of win could easily be a turning point of the season where they make a statement that they are ready to compete in the AAC by improving to 4-3, 2-1, AAC East. They still need to follow this up on Friday night at 7:00 when they come home to face the USF Bulls (6-1, 3-0), who already became bowl eligible beating UConn earlier today 42-27 at home. I will be at the Linc covering this one for PatAve.
I will leave you with the improbable highlights of this one courtesy of the Temple Owls FB page.