It was not the way the Temple Owls – especially the many seniors on the team – envisioned the season ending, but even a furious 2nd half rally that saw them score 19 unanswered points, fell short as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons held on to win the 2016 Military Bowl, 34-26.
Temple’s Nightmare First Half:
As noted in my preview, bowl games are tough to pick, and this was nothing like the double digit game that the odds-makers posted. It really seemed like the Temple defense was not prepared for the Wake Forest offense as the Demon Deacons rattled off 31 1st half points after Temple opened the scoring. That opening Owls score came about when Sean Chandler picked off Wake QB John Wolford on 3rd and 12 taking over on the Wake 48. Phillip Walker then found Adonis Jennings in the end zone for on the 1st play with 13:33 left in the quarter. The Deac’s had 4 TDs – one of those TD’s was a gimme after a Chandler muffed punt at the 11 – and a FG the rest of the half, while the Owls could only muster a FG with 2:58 left until halftime to make the score 31-10.
Temple’s 2nd Half Rally:
That FG to end the half which came on a 11 play, 57 yard, 2:58 drive, seemed to change the momentum a bit and the Owls who have been a very good 2nd half team all season came right out of the tunnel scoring a TD on a 3 play, 75 yard, 0:52 drive that ended with the second long TD pass to Jennings – 58 yds this time – to tighten the score to 31-17. The other momentum changer which helped Temple to hold Wake Forest to only 3 pts in the 2nd half, was the knocking out of starting QB Wolford. Wake behind back-up Kyle Kearns never really threatened again until their final FG after a special teams breakdown which allowed Wake to return a kick-off 80 yds and enabled their final FG. During that time Temple would get three more FG’s from FR Walk-on Aaron Boumerhi, which put them in position to tie the game on their last drive w/ a TD and a 2 pt conversion.
Temple did have a nice return of 47 yds to their 47 to start the possible game extending drive, but after failing on 2nd and 3rd and 1 – the 3rd down a deep hand-off to Jahad Thomas, who had been stymied by Wake’s excellent run defense all game, lost 2 yds. Walker’s dying quail of a pass on 4th down fell to the field, as the Wake Forest sideline and fans erupted.
Walker, who dislocated a knuckle on his throwing hand in the first half wound up 28/49, 396 yds, 8.1 Avg. augmented by the two long TD passes, 2 TDs, 1 Int. He had -54 yds rushing which diminished the already tough rushing game totals. His top receiver was Jennings, 7 catches, 154 yds, 22 yd avg, and the two long TDs. Ventell Bryant made his obligatory big catches, a few of the circus variety, 11/151 13.7 avg. Overall Temple only had -20 net yard rushing, with Thomas the “leading” ball carrier, 7/35, 5 yd avg. They knew coming in Wake Forest had a very good run defense, but I am sure they were hoping for more on the ground.
New head coach Geoff Collins will have his Temple semi-debut in April’s annual Cherry and White Game. Their 2017 season has a tough start on September 2nd with a trip to Notre Dame.
Even with the second disappointing Bowl loss in a row, this Temple team has nothing to be ashamed of and the many Seniors will look back on these four years as being very successful. On a personal note, I want to once again thank PattisonAve.com for giving me this opportunity to scribble at you all, and Temple Football – especially AD Rich Burg – for giving me the chance to sit in the Press Box for home games, and the Military Bowl for affording me to opportunity to cover this game. See you all on PatAve on Monday for my next “Phillies ICYMI Monday” series and all over twitter on any Temple, Union or Phillies news in the coming months.