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Temple Fails Late Comeback Bid in Military Bowl Loss to Wake Forest

The AAC moves to 1-5 on bowl season as its champion falls to a .500 ACC team.

Military Bowl - Temple v Wake Forest Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

Temple was on the cusp of tying this game late in the fourth quarter. After being down by as much as 24, the Owls cut the lead to eight and had 2nd & goal with the ball on the six-yard line— two chances to get into the end zone.

Unfortunately, quarterback Philip Walker tried just a little too hard to make a play and ended up taking a 22-yard sack. Temple (10-4) had to take the field goal and settle for hoping to make a stop.

Those hopes were quickly dashed as Wake Forest’s John Armstrong returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to the Temple 15. The Owls prevented the Wake offense from getting a first down and ending it, but the Demon Deacons were still able to hit a field goal which would get us to the Military Bowl’s final score, 34-26.

The game started off well for Temple. Wake Forest (7-6) started with the ball and on their third play from scrimmage, junior safety Sean Chandler grabbed an interception. On the very next play, Walker hit Adonis Jennings for a 48-yard touchdown on a nicely-thrown ball.

Despite posting ten wins and winning the conference championship, this Temple team still had plenty to play for. They were looking to shake off a poor performance in last year’s bowl game, prove they could win without Rhule, and reach a program high of 11 wins. It also wouldn’t have hurt for Temple’s accomplished senior class to go out on a high note.

But Wake Forest and quarterback John Wolford had other ideas. The Deacs started using a no-huddle offense and it kept Temple on their heels. They started gaining chunks of yardage and scoring touchdowns on their way to 31 unanswered points, with two Temple turnovers—a muffed punt and an interception—helping the cause.

Temple struggled to get the running game going offensively in general until a 57-yard field goal drive at the end of the first half made it 31-10 at the break.

Beyond losing Rhule, the team had to feel the pressure of losing other assistants, the ones who will follow him to Baylor, making trips to Waco during bowl preparation. These changes had to affect the team during this game.

A different looking team stormed out of the gate ready to play in the third quarter, scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. After grabbing an interception on Wake’s ensuing possession, Temple added a field goal to cut the lead to 11 going into the fourth quarter. Wake Forest would be playing with their backup quarterback after Wolford left the game with a neck strain.

Temple scored another field goal to make it a one-score game but could not complete the comeback. Just weeks after upsetting a ranked Navy team in Annapolis for the AAC title, they suffered a very disappointing loss in the same stadium to close out the season.

The Geoff Collins era officially begins in Philly, where despite this setback the program is in as good of shape as it has ever been for a new head coach. The Matt Rhule era ends with consecutive 10-win seasons and a conference title. Collins is one of four new head coaches in the AAC East division so he could lead Temple to another division title next season.