The Temple Owls have spent much of their football existence as a program that’s been a punching bag of jokes. But over the past 10 seasons, they were a program on the rise, winning an American Athletic Championship in 2016.
At least for one week, they are back to being a punching bag after a loss to crosstown FCS opponent Villanova on Saturday. The Wildcats dominated the game from the start, posting 405 yards of offense compared to 251 for Temple, in the 19-17 win at Lincoln Financial Field.
Villanova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk was 29-of-40 for 254 and three touchdowns, while running back Aaron Forbes picked up 111 yards on the ground in the upset win over Temple to take the all-time series lead between the two programs.
Villanova took the opening drive for points behind a balanced attack that kept the Temple defense on its heels. Forbes took his first handoff up the middle for 18 yards and a pass interference call on the next play moved the ball quickly into Temple territory. A few plays later, Bednarczyk hit Jarrett McClenton in the flat for 13 yards to get the ball to the 1-yard line. Bednarczyk’s play-action pass to Ryan Bell capped off the eight-play, 70-yard drive for Nova to build the 7-0 lead.
Frank Nutile got the Owls' first drive on the Noce with a completion to Branden Mack for 21 yards to convert on third-and-12. A few plays later, Nutile connected with Ventell Bryant on the sidelines for another third-down conversion. However, they could not do it for a third time on the series and settled for an Aaron Boumerhi 46-yard field goal to get their first points of the game.
Villanova responded by wasting no time, scoring another touchdown on an 11-play, 76-yard drive. It was Bell with a couple of key receptions that helped the Wildcats move down the field once again. Bednarczyk stepped up in the pocket and took a shot on the throw, but delivered a beautiful pass to find Brandon Chadbourn for another touchdown. The ensuing extra point was missed, but the Wildcats jumped out to a 13-3 lead with a minute to go in the first quarter.
The quarter did not end without a bit of controversy as Villanova starting strong safety Julian Williams hit Isaiah Wright‘s helmet and the play went under review. Wright was falling to the ground when Williams made the contact, but the officials ruled that it was targeting and Williams was ejected from the game.
The Wildcats started their third drive from deep in their own territory following a Temple punt. A third-down conversion from Bednarczyk to Changa Hodge for 11 yards pushed them out of the back of their own end zone. Two plays later, Forbes took a carry down the right sideline for 35 yards, and Nova was in scoring distance once again.
Temple was finally able to make a third-down stop and the Wildcats sent out the field-goal team for a 32-hard attempt. Quincy Roche blocked the kick and Kimere Brown returned it 76 yards for the Owls first touchdown of the season. It was a big shift in the game as Temple trailed 13-10, rather than 16-3.
The Owls' defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession and Isaiah Wright set the offense up in good field position with a solid return. But the Temple offense still couldn’t get anything going and Nutile was sacked on fourth down to end the drive.
Villanova converted a fourth-and-1 with 31 seconds to go inside the Temple 20-yard line. It amounted to nothing as Bednarczyk was sacked with no timeouts and the Wildcats couldn’t get the field-goal unit on the field in time to score any points before time expired in the half.
Mark Ferrante’s team dominated the first half as they racked up 247 yards on offense, compared to 87 for the Owls. Meanwhile, Temple‘s running game was non-existent, gaining nine yards on nine carries in the first two periods, while the Wildcats tallied 102 yards rushing. With all that said, it was only a three-point lead for Villanova.
The Owls' offense showed signs of life midway through the third on the arm and legs of Nutile. It may not seem like much, but the senior quarterback picked up seven yards and two carries to open up some things on offense. Two more completions to Mack, who seemed to be Nutile’s favorite target all afternoon, set up the first offensive touchdown of the season. Nutile lobbed it up to Wright for a 15-yard leaping grab to take the 17-13 lead with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter.
That’s when a series of bad plays sealed the fate for the Owls.
It looked like Temple would take over the game as Sam Franklin picked off Bednarczyk with Nova in scoring range once again, but Boumerhi missed a 29-year field goal attempt to pad their lead.
Bednarczyk redeemed himself with 73 yards through the air on the next possession, including a 30-yard touchdown on fourth-and-9 to retake the lead at 19-17 with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. That proved to be all the scoring the Wildcats needed to pull off the upset.
Nutile threw interceptions on back-to-back plays on the Owls final two series to give Villanova the win. It was a terrible showing from the Temple offense as a whole, and it wasn’t a good look for a conference hoping to make the jump into being considered a Power Six.
Temple and FAU did UCF no favors in the SOS department. None.— Underdog Dynasty (@underdogdynasty) September 1, 2018