There are several ways to look at Geoff Collins’ first win as a Temple football coach, and the head man chose to take the positive view.
Collins certainly won’t forget Aaron Boumerhi’s kicking a career-best 49-yard field goal with a minute left to give the Owls a 16-13 win over Villanova before 35,117 at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Owls put together a nine-play, 36-yard drive immediately after Villanova tied the score at 13 on Drew Kresge’s field goal with 3 minutes, 29 seconds left.
Temple finally could exhale when Shaun Bradley forced a fumble that was recovered by Sharif Finch at the Owls’ 42-yard line with 9 seconds left.
Collins chose to focus on the Owls’ resiliency in coming back and said he wasn’t concerned that his team couldn’t put away Villanova, a powerhouse FCS school, but an FCS school nevertheless.
So after opening with a 49-16 loss at Notre Dame and barely escaping against a hard-nosed Villanova team, Temple has many questions two games into the season.
Those questions can be asked later. For now, Temple had to be relieved to escape with a win after being outscored 13-6 and outgained 273-111 in the second half. Except Collins said relief wasn’t the emotion of the day.
“If you look around college football, I don’t think there is any sense of relief,” he said. “You beat a really good football team, you are going to celebrate and be happy and that is the way we look at it.”
Villanova (1-1) deserves a world of credit for hanging around all game.
First-year head coach Mark Ferrante said all week he was coming to win, and although he wasn’t celebrating any moral victories, deep down he knew his team extended Temple to the very limit.
“We proved we could compete with a level-up team,” Ferrante said.
The Owls will look to two key plays on their game-winning drive. The first was a 29-yard completion from Logan Marchi to Ventell Bryant that put the ball on the Villanova 45. Two plays later, on a second-and-14 from the Villanvova 49, the Wildcats’ Malik Reaves was called for holding receiver Adonis Jennings, giving the Owls a first down on the Wildcats’ 39.
Four plays later, Boumerhi kicked his game-winner.
“I tried not to think about the distance; they just sent me out there and I was ready to put it through the uprights,” said Boumerhi, whose previous best was a 48-yarder last season.
Temple has a unique situation: Senior Austin Jones is the short-range placekicker and Boumerhi kicks from longer distances.
Jones hit from 22 yards and Boumerhi was 2 for 3, missing a 48-yarder in the second quarter and hitting from 44 yards in the third before kicking the game-winner.
Villanova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk was a major reason the Wildcats battled to the very end. Taking several hits and eluding many others with his scrambling ability, the junior lefthander completed 27 of 41 passes for a career-high 382 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions.
Marchi completed 20 of 34 for 274 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions. He threw for 193 of those yards in the first half, when Temple led, 10-0.
“On that last drive, we tried to get the ball to our receivers outside one-on-one and try to give them a chance to make a play,” said Marchi, who hasn’t thrown an interception in two games.
Temple’s lone touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Nick Sharga with 1 second left in the first half. The Owls got a field goal on the first series of the third quarter to make it 13-0.
Two Kresge field goals sandwiched around a 10-yard scoring pass from Bednarczyk to Taurus Phillips tied the score before Temple’s final drive earned the first win of the Geoff Collins era.