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East Carolina Falls To Temple 24-14: How Five Minutes Ended Upset Hopes

Leading for a majority of the game, the Pirates saw their chances at an upset win over Temple fall to the wayside in the final five minutes.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Leading 14-10 with five minutes left in the game, the East Carolina Pirates gave up two late touchdowns to the Temple Owls in a 24-14 loss.

Following an opening drive punt by the Pirates, Temple moved the ball on a 9-play, 48-yard drive that was capped by an Austin Jones 28-yard field goal. East Carolina responded with a 5-play, 37-yard drive that stalled at the Temple 23. Davis Plowman attempted a 40-yard field goal, but it was no good, leaving the score 3-0 in favor of Temple.

After a Temple punt, Blake Kemp found success versus the Owls defense in going 80 yard in 14 plays. Chris Hairston finished the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run to give ECU a 7-3 lead with 9:02 left in the first half.

Temple and East Carolina proceeded to trade late first half touchdowns, a two-yard run from Jahad Thomas for Temple and a 7-yard touchdown catch from Quay Johnson for East Carolina. At the half, East Carolina led 14-10.

Midway through the third quarter, Kemp made his first real mistake of the night in getting intercepted by Tyler Matakevich. The Pirates defense came up big, forcing an Owls 52-yard field goal attempt that was no good. The ECU defense came up big once again on the next drive, a drive that followed the Pirates second turnover of the day. This time the defense forced a 37-yard field goal attempt that was missed, leaving the score 14-10 in favor of East Carolina with 7:24 left in the game.

Needing to string one drive together to put the game away, the Pirates offense went three and out, giving the ball to Temple with a chance to score. Temple, facing a second and 24 at their own 29, hit a 51-yard completion to Robby Anderson to give the Owls the ball on the ECU 34. Five plays later, Temple took their first lead since the second quarter at 17-14.

With 3:31 left on the clock and a chance to win the game, the Pirates went three and out yet again. This time, tragedy struck as the punt attempt was blocked, giving Temple the ball on the East Carolina 15-yard line. Two plays later, Jahad Thomas put the game away with a 14-yard touchdown run.

As the clock hit zero, East Carolina fell to 4-4 with a 24-14 loss to Temple.

As always, there is good and bad from a game like this. Let’s take a look at the good and bad from a heartbreaking home loss to Temple.

The Good:

  • Defensive Play for Three Quarters: For three quarters, the Pirates defense held Temple to 162 total yards of offense. Of those 162 yards in the first three quarters, Temple had 123 of those on two drives. For three quarters, Temple looked completely inept versus the East Carolina defense.
  • Nearly Pulling Off The Win: Despite the 10-point final margin, the Pirates could, and probably should, have pulled off the win. They were just as good as or better than Temple for the majority of the game. Yes, this one hurts, but sometimes things don’t work out like you hope. I don't like putting this in the good column, but it is good to see ECU right there with the best of the conference.
  • Forcing Field Goals: On two occasions in the second half, the Pirates turned the ball over. On both occasions, the East Carolina defense did just enough to force a field goal attempt. Both attempts were no good, saving the lead for just that much longer.

The Bad:

  • Penalties: Nine penalties for 99 yards is completely unacceptable. Three holding calls, two personal fouls, two pass interferences, an illegal block, and an illegal grounding were called against East Carolina. I believe that is at least one penalty from every aspect of the team (offense, defense, special teams). Not good at all.
  • Fourth Quarter Play: How do you dominate a team for three quarters and then fail to move the ball on offense, while giving up huge plays on defense in the fourth? The Pirates pulled that off with a fumble, a punt, and a blocked punt on offense, while giving up 160 yards and two touchdowns on defense. I wish there was something positive to say about this, but this was a breakdown on both sides of the ball in the final minutes.
  • Finishing Drives: The Pirates were able to move the ball on offense versus the very good Temple defense, but struggled to finish drives. A missed 37-yard field goal in the first half would have changed the entire complexion of the game. The Pirates were able to overcome an interception by Blake Kemp and a fumble by Anthony Scott with great defensive play. 14 points would not be enough versus Temple, and East Carolina failed on several occasions to get to the all-important 21 point mark.

Play Of The Game:

  • Facing a 2nd and 24 and 5:22 left on the clock, Temple completed a 51-yard pass to the East Carolina 34-yard line. It seemed like all the air was taken from the Pirates sideline with that completion. Temple scored the game winning touchdown five plays later.

Up Next:

  • The Pirates head up to Hartford, Connecticut to face the UConn Huskies in a Friday night game. Kickoff is at 7:00 PM EST for this matchup.