Postgame Player Interviews [Video]
PHILADELPHIA - Sophomore Brandon McManus connected on his career high fourth field goal of the game, a 43-yarder with three seconds remaining and Justin Gildea took a Villanova forward lateral into the end zone to cap a Temple 31-24 come-from-behind win in the 2010 Mayor's Cup presented by Dunkin Donuts Friday evening at Lincoln Financial Field. The crowd of 32,193, the second largest to watch a Temple game at the Lincoln Financial Field, was treated to a true nail-biter as the lead changed hands twice in the final two minutes.
“There are a lot of irrelevant games in college football this weekend. This is not one of them. This is going to be a meaningful game for years to come," Temple head coach Al Golden said.
It looked like deja vu just two minutes earlier when Villanova PK Nick Yako drilled a 41-yard field goal to give the Wildcats a 24-22 lead with 2:17 to play. Yako had hit a game-winning 32-yard field goal in the first Mayor's Cup as time expired.
Temple QB Chester Stewart, who had career-highs in completions (16) and yards (200), was not done yet. The redshirt junior marched the Owls down to the Villanova 26 on 10 plays. Stewart hit his favorite target on the night, senior WR Michael Campbell, for 11 yards to open the drive. Following a Bernard Pierce first down run, Stewart scrambled for 13 yards to the Wildcat 34. He then hit Campbell again for three yards, and followed with a quick out to sophomore RB Matt Brown fo five yards, stopping the clock with nine seconds remaining.
“Obviously he won the game for us, and I was excited for that," Golden said of Stewart. "He did show a lot of poise and a lot of maturity. We had a quarterback that won in the two minute drill. This time he did it after he made a critical error.”
McManus, who had already connected on field goals of 53 (career high), 44 and 40 yards, calmly walked out on the field to attempt to win the game for the Owls. The snap, however, was high, but redshirt senior TE Vaughn Charlton pulled it down and set it perfectly for McManus, who drilled it through the uprights.
“I thought Brandon (McManus) would hit it," Golden said.
Villanova took the ensuing kickoff with three seconds remaining and proceeded to lateral it back and forth in hopes of a miracle play. On the second illegal forward lateral, Gildea intercepted it and ran it into the end zone to account for the final score.
The game started like the first Mayor's cup with Temple taking an early 7-0 lead on a Brown 17-yard run. The "Bug", who rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries, took lateral from Stewart as he was being hit on a scramble, and reversed field, finding the right pylon for the score.
Villanova's Chris Whitney directed the Wildcat offense to midfield before being intercepted by senior CB Marquise Liverpool. It would be the only incomplete pass for the VU signalcaller in the half on 15 attempts.
After Temple went three and out on its next possession, Whitney and senior all-purpose player Matt Szczur led the Wildcats on a eight-play, 72-yard drive culminating in a Whitney to Szczur four-yard TD pass to tie the score at 7.
The Wildcat defense again held the Owls in check, giving the ball back to Whitney. Again the Villanova QB was able to direct his team upfield via a short passing game and the solid play by running backs Aaron Ball (9-45 yds, 1 TD) and Angelo Babbaro (6-34 yds). Ball, who rushed for 29 yards on the drive, put Villanova ahead on a nine-yard touchdown run, making it 14-7
Stewart then hooked up with the Owls newest receiver, junior transfer Rod Streater, for consecutive receptions totally 27 yards to set up McManus' career-high 53-yarder to make it 14-10 at the half.
Following a Yako missed field goal of 43 yards in the third quarter, McManus was good from 44 to cut the deficit to one, 14-13.
Villanova opened the fourth quarter with Whitney hitting Norman White on a 21-yard touchdown pass, making it 21-13 with 14:47 minutes to play.
The Owls then drove down to the Wildcat 19 before settling on a McManus 36-yard attempt. This time the sure-footed sophomore was wide right.
Temple's defense, led by senior FS Jaiquawn Jarrett (team-high 7 tackles), finally found the answer to the Villanova offense, holding the Wildcats without a first down on the ensuing possession.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Alderman returned the first VU punt of the day 28 yards to the Villanova 27. That set up a 40-yard field goal by McManus to make it 21-16.
Again the Temple defense was up to the challenge with 2009 MAC Defensive Player of the Year Adrian Robinson stopping Babbaro on consecutive rushes and Whitney missing Szczur on a third and seven play.
Stewart then showed his arm strength, airing it out to Campbell for a 62-yard touchdown strike to give the Owls a 22-21 lead. Stewart and Campbell failed to connect on the two-point conversion, however.
For the third straight time Temple's defense held, forcing a Villanova punt, but following two Pierce rushes, Stewart fumbled the snap with 'Nova's John Dempsey recovering on the Temple 22.
Yako then looked to have won the Mayor's Cup again for the visitors, until the wild finish.
Pierce, Temple's Heisman Trophy candidate, did not start, but finished with a game-high 75 yards on 20 carries.
The Owls (1-0) open their Mid-American Conference schedule this Thursday against the defending conference champion Central Michigan Chippewas. The game will kickoff at 7:00 p.m. and be televised nationally on ESPNU. It will also air on 1340 AM WHAT.