Temple’s defense forced three turnovers, including two interceptions and a fumble, as the Owls beat Mid-American Conference team Miami (Ohio) 24-21 and secured bowl eligibility tonight at Lincoln Financial Field.
With this win, Temple improves to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the MAC. The Owls set a school record with most wins in three consecutive seasons (23), and tie for most wins (28) by any four-year class in Temple history with tonight’s win. This is also the first time Temple has been eligible for a bowl in three consecutive seasons.
Owls’ sophomore quarterback Chris Coyer got his first career start in the game, completing 10 of 19 passes and totaling 92 passing yards. He also threw his fourth touchdown pass of the season--he had three in relief of Chester Stewart in a loss last week to Ohio--which now leads the Owls.
The Owls’ defense had two interceptions, one fumble, and seven sacks for 31 lost yards on Miami’s junior quarterback Zac Dysert. The game featured huge momentum swings--Temple had three touchdowns in the second and fourth to win those quarters, while Miami got a touchdown each in the first and third quarters.
The first three drives of the third quarter did not result in any points for either Miami or Temple. Miami added some excitement as Dysert passed to Chris Givens for a 25-yard touchdown. The RedHawks inched closer to the Owls’ lead with that touchdown, making it 17-14 with 4:50 to go in the third.
Temple then got the ball back and gained 16 yards on five plays, forcing a punt by Brandon McManus from the Temple 21-yard line. Dysert then led the RedHawks down the field, moving them 32 yards in five plays before Owls’ sophomore corner back Zamel Johnson intercepted Dysert’s pass for a gain of 52 yards just 30 seconds before the third quarter ended.
The Owls had the ball as the fourth quarter began and it did not take them long to score. 1:15 into the fourth, Brown went up the middle for a two-yard touchdown, increasing the lead to 10 points at 24-14.
After two drives, Miami drove for 92 yards with the final 14 yards resulting in a Nick Harwell touchdown, decreasing the difference to three points. Harwell was the RedHawks top performer. He had two touchdowns while breaking two school records: single game receptions, with 15, and single game receiving yards, with 229.
The RedHawks’ quarterback threw for 428 yards as he completed 28 of 37 passes. Dysert lead the team to a 50 percent third down efficiency rate and threw for three touchdowns.
In Dysert’s 2009 game against Temple, the quarterback completed 31 of 51 attempts for 426 total yards. He was sacked five times in that game, losing 33 yards. Dysert did not play in the 2010 game against Temple because of a rib injury.
The RedHawks looked to strike early against the Owls in the opening drive of the game. Dysert threw a 34 yard pass to Harwell, putting the ball at the Temple 40-yard line. Three plays later, Kevin Kroboth recovered a Chris Givens fumble at the Miami 40-yard-line and the resulting Temple drive ended in a 32-yard field goal by kicker Brandon McManus, making the score 3-0 Temple.
Miami struck back with a 14-play, 90-yard drive as Dysert completed a 29-yard touchdown pass to Harwell. The first quarter ended with Temple in possession of the ball and Miami (Ohio) up 7-3. Dysert went 9-of-12 for 145 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the first half.
Temple began the second quarter with a two play, 14-yard drive resulting in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Coyer to sophomore wide receiver Deon Miller, putting the Owls up 10-7. Coyer finished the first half with 118 total yards--51 through the air and 67 on the ground. Temple junior running back Matt Brown added 72 yards on 11 carries of his own while filling in for the injured Bernard Pierce, who sat out with a head injury.
Dysert was sacked twice, once by Justin Gildea and once by Morkeith Brown, in the Redhawks’ first drive of the second quarter. Temple then took over at its 46-yard line, a six play, 26-yard drive as McManus ended the Owls possession with a missed 38-yard field goal. Miami did not gain any yards in its next five plays and punted the ball to Temple’s 11-yard line.
Miami’s next possession was only one play as defensive end Adrian Robinson intercepted at the Miami 15-yard line. Coyer rushed into the end zone for nine-yard touchdown run as Temple increased the score to 17-7, which is how the first half ended.
Temple will go on to play Army at Lincoln Financial Field on November 19 at 1 p.m. The game will air on ESPN 3.
Taylor Knight is a college sports correpondent for BuzzOnBroad.com