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Temple Closer to Bowl Eligibility With Win Over Cincinnati

Frank Nutile led the Owls back to a .500 record in AAC play and one win away from being bowl-eligible.

NCAA Football: Temple at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Junior Frank Nutile cemented himself as the starting quarterback for the Temple Owls with a 35-24 win over the Cincinnati Bearcats on Friday to keep their bowl dreams alive with a 5-5 record.

Nutile threw for 224 yards and a touchdown and added 28 yards and a rushing score to push the Owls to a .500 record in the American Athletic Conference and overall. He even caught a pass from Isaiah Wright for a two-point conversion on a trick play to move them a win away from bowl-eligibility.

It wasn’t a great start for the Owls as Nutile’s second pass of the game was picked off by Marquese Taylor. While it goes down as an interception in the record books, the ball was tipped into the air, making it a relatively easy play for Taylor. The Bearcats could not capitalize and it wasn’t much longer before the Owls scored the first points and never looked back.

Temple had their first scoring series stall inside the Cincinnati 10-yard-line and had to settle for a field goal. The second scoring possession came after Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore fumbled the football and Sean Chandler came up with the loose football. The Owls offense moved inside the Cincy 10 once again, but had to settle for another field goal to make it a 6-0 game.

Cincinnati went three-and-out on the ensuing drive and Temple responded with a 12-play, 84-yard drive that resulted in a David Hood one-yard rushing score to move the Owls out in front, 13-0. Hood amassed 41 yards on the drive, and led Temple with 108 rushing yards on 23 carries.

The Bearcats scored on the opening possession of the second half to cut it to a one-score game. On a fourth-and-6 play from the Temple 29-yard-line, Moore connected with Thomas Geddis for a touchdown strike, and for the first time all night, Nippert Stadium showed some life.

Nutile responded with an impressive five-play, 74-yard drive in which he accounted for all the yardage. He started the series with a 19-yard completion to Wright and then a 21-yard scamper to set Temple up at the 34. The junior quarterback found Keith Kirkwood on the next play for his lone touchdown pass of the afternoon.

Bearcats running back Mike Boone put Cincinnati within striking distance once again on a 21-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 20-14. Moments later, Wright responded with a 98-yard kickoff return and the two-point conversion to give Temple a 28-14 advantage.

Nutile scored from three yards out two possessions later to give Temple their final points of the evening.

The win tied the Temple senior class for the most wins in school history. Should the Owls reach the six-win mark, it will be the first time in the history of the program that they participated in a bowl game in three straight seasons. That should come as no surprise after posting consecutive 10-win seasons and their first conference championship last season.

Temple will host undefeated UCF next week at home and close the season with a trip to Tulsa with their postseason dreams on the line. The Owls are likely to be underdogs against the Knights, but should be the favorite against the Golden Hurricane.