Temple beats Villanova 31-24 on late 43-yard FGBy DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer Friday, Sep 3, 2010
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Villanova coach Andy Talley was trying to say something about how the city should be proud of a great game between two rivals.
He was being drowned out from the Temple locker room next door, where the victorious and vociferous Owls were belting out “High Hopes.” The song made famous the last few years during the Phillies’ postseason runs had moved across the street as the Owls reveled in finally beating the defending FCS national champions.
Brandon McManus kicked a 43-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to lift Temple to a 31-24 win over the Wildcats on Friday night. The Owls scored a bizarre touchdown on the final play, too.
“It’s hard to beat champions and you can just tell all night you’ve got to knock the champion out,” Temple coach Al Golden said.
McManus also kicked field goals of 53, 44 and 40 yards in front of more than 32,000 fans, the second-largest crowd to watch the Owls in Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls won the Mayor’s Cup presented to the winner of this series.
“There’s a lot of irrelevant games in college football this weekend. This isn’t one of them,” Golden said. “This is going to be a meaningful game for years to come. It’s got a regional flair.”
Justin Gildea scored on a 26-yard fumble return on the last play of the games. There was a penalty on the play and it took nearly 15 minutes for officials to sort out if the score would stand.
The Owls went ahead 22-21 on Chester Stewart’s 62-yard TD pass to Michael Campbell. Stewart fumbled the snap on the next possession and the Wildcats recovered inside the 25. Nick Yako kicked a 41-yard field goal with 1:56 left that put Villanova up 24-22.
The Owls had circled the date of this game since the schedule was released after the Wildcats beat them last season. Golden was quick to note that with all of Temple’s milestones last year—first winning season since 1990, first bowl game since 1979—the Owls failed to beat city rival Villanova.
“There’s going to be skeptics and cynics that say, ‘Well, you beat a I-AA team.’ I’m going to tell you right now, wrong,” Golden said. “We beat champions.”
For most of this one, it looked like the Wildcats would win for the fourth straight time. Villanova’s Chris Whitney completed 15 of 17 passes in the first half and finished 17 of 25 for 133 yards with two touchdowns.
The Wildcats won this game last season and won the previous two meetings in 2003 and 1980.
“We had our opportunities to win the game and it sort of slipped away there at the end,” Talley said.
Whitney’s first TD pass was a 3-yarder to Matt Szczur, the Most Outstanding Player in the FCS title game. The two-sport star was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and had a 21-game hitting streak in the minors this year.
Talley rested Szczur to get him fresh for the grueling season ahead. He caught five passes and even completed one.
“I’m not used to losing with this team at all,” Szczur said. “Kudos to Temple. They came out and played an amazing game.”
Aaron Ball’s 9-yard run gave Villanova a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
McManus ended the half with a 54-yard field goal, the second longest in Temple history; Don Bitterlich hit a 56-yarder in 1975. McManus had plenty of oomph as the ball would have been good from at least 5 more yards.
The Owls needed all of McManus’ kicks to eek out this victory. He hit one in the third quarter and another in the fourth that brought the Owls within five.
Stewart, who made four starts last year, made a perfect pass to Campbell to put Temple ahead. The Owls botched the 2-point conversion. Stewart was 16 for 27 for a career-high 200 yards. Campbell had eight catches for 127 yards.
“He got open, I put it on him and he made a play with it and scored,” Stewart of the TD pass.
Years of futility had eroded Temple’s fan base until Golden revitalized the program. Fans tailgated outside the Linc, home of the NFL’s Eagles, hours before the rare 5 p.m. kickoff. Only a Penn State game in 2007 ever drew more fans.
“The people of Philadelphia should really embrace college football in the area,” Talley said. “I thought it was just tremendous for the people who came to the game, both programs and college football.”