Greatest. Win. Ever.

When I was just a kid, I got on a trolley, an EL and a bus to go to a Temple night game only because I begged my late Sainted father, a Villanova grad, and told him I would be OK.

(Previously, I had watched Temple only on television and fell in love with the football Owls.)

That night, Temple beat a ranked West Virginia, 39-36, before 14,000 in a 20,000-seat stadium thanks to two long punt returns by Paul Loughran.

On the way to the K bus, I heard the chant “We Want Nebraska!” (Nebraska, on that night was the No. 1 team in the country.)

That was the night I became a Temple fan for life, so much so that I turned down a full academic ride to be one of the first 24 males in a school of 1,300 females at Cabrini College so I could work my way through Temple.

That’s how much I loved Temple University in general and Temple football in particular. My male friends who know how much I also loved females told me that’s how crazy I was, but Cabrini also did not offer Journalism so I could rationalize my position that way.

For many years, I thought that was the greatest victory in Temple football history until last year when I saw the look of utter dejection on the faces of Penn State fans and joy on the Temple side and thought that was better.

Nothing, though, like last night when Temple football, in my mind, scored the greatest win in its history, 26-25, at Central Florida. First, in my 40-plus years of crazy Temple fandom, I do not remember winning a game on the final pass or a game by scoring a touchdown in the last second.

I have a pretty good memory and I do not think that is wrong.

Second, I do not remember one of my favorite Temple quarterbacks of all time going 4-for-4 on his final drive and eschewing a spike for a game-winning touchdown pass. My favorite Temple quarterbacks are, in order, Brian Broomell, Steve Joachim, Adam DiMichele, Doug Shobert and P.J. Walker.

I’m not saying they are the best, but they are certainly my favorites and one of my favs has been unduly criticized lately and I was so happy to see him shove it in his critics’ faces.

Walker was forced to throw from the pocket almost exclusively last night, despite us PLEADING with the coaches to roll him out for the last six weeks. Despite that, Walker found a way to get things done on the final drive.

To me, that’s not the only reason why this was the greatest win ever but because the program was at a crossroads before this game. Win, and the Owls still saw a path to the AAC championship; lose, and the Owls were staring at a 6-6 “type” season.

Look at it this way. Temple beat a team, UCF, that won at ECU, 47-29. ECU beat NC State, 33-30. NC State beat Notre Dame, 10-3. UCF took a Maryland team into overtime that beat Purdue, 50-7. It could not take Temple into overtime. Temple overcame a 25-7  lead and won on a literal last-second pass.

Not, mind you, a Hail Mary, but a last-second pass. For Temple, that’s as close as it has ever gotten and a the first repayment for all of the Hail Mary’s completed against the Owls.

Greatest Win Ever?

If the Owls turn this into an AAC title, it will be. For now, the measurables (25-7 deficit, last-second pass)  make it something that has never happened before and that has to be good enough.

Tuesday: The Path Forward


31 thoughts on “Greatest. Win. Ever.

  1. I agree with you Mike. The only game that came close was the ’76 PSU game when they went for two. One correction. It was 25-14 at the half.

  2. i think in my sophomore or freshman year we had a chance to beat PSU in the last minute at the Vet.., that would have been the greatest win of all time.., did you notice the Temple sideline? they were too shocked to celebrate.., it was almost as if they could not process what just happened.., i’m screwed now, i ripped and flushed the USF tickets at the beginning of the 4th qtr

    • KJ,

      I recall the gam that you are talking about. It was a rain-soaked game in which Temple trailed 10-7 very late in the 4th quarter. The Owls had the ball inside the 20 with just about 2-3 minutes left……and our QB fumbled the snap away. PSU scored on the next play,I believe an 70+ yard run and added on another score when TU fumbled away the ensuing kickoff. Owls lost that game 24-7, but, as you said was much, much closer and PSU was ranked VERY high at the time.

      The QB, by the way, was Trent Thompson. If I recall, he really was our punter and only playing QB due to a string of crazy injuries. Can anyone confirm my recollections of this???

    • Plenty of tickets still available.

  3. Well…I am happy about the win but I am still concerned about the inability to play the option on defense and on offense there is a problem with pass protection and accuracy of passes. Luckily, some of our opponents are simply not that strong so we might get lucky and pull off a seven win season but I hope that the administration realizes that this program should not even be thinking of any move to another conference like Big 12, Big 10 or ACC. Take a look at what is happening to Rutgers.

    • You a nathering nabob of negativity. You must be a real peach to be around. You whine when they lose and you whine when they win. Please take your complaints elsewhere and take KJ with you.

    • I think anokwale lost all credibility when he said Temple should drop to FCS.

    • What’s happening to Rutgers? They are in line to make forty million a year from the Big Ten and by becoming a member they have guaranteed their existence as a major college sports program. Once and for all stop with the 1-AA nonsense. First the Owls would have nowhere to play. Second, they are currently a good, not great football team that can play with anyone. Third, most of the the 1-AA teams draw less than 10,000 fans, Fourth, it would bring nothing to the university. Last season, which I think can be duplicated sooner than later, did more for the school publicity wise than any success in 1-AA could ever achieve. Finally, it’s one pf the dumbest comments I ever read.

  4. Temple is so unpredictable I don’t expect much but at least now I think success is possible. And last night proved it. But if Temple is going to have a shot at USF they need to clean up those silly penalties. Last night’s 2nd half is how they need to play from the get-go. And only 1 interception. Walker operated that last hurry-up drive to perfection. And the D was better on those big runs up the middle, but not great. It appeared the O-line did better also. I’m still hoping for a “7 and a bowl” season. Last night made it possible.
    Go Owls.

    • Yes, the hurry-up that did not exist last year at Houston reared its beautiful head at Orlando.

      • As my comments indicated on Mike’s previous post indicated, the team should consider speeding things during the game at times up. Can’t waste seven minutes twice and only get two field goals. It would also put the opposing defenses at a disadvantage having to wonder at what speed the offense is going to work. On D the coaches better stress assignment football this week because SFU’s qb and rb can turn a little error into six like they did last year, Owls can win this week if they play like they did in the second half. One more thing. Wonder if the refs during the Houston-Tulsa game were the same ones who did TU-Memphis? They screwed up big time on the last play because Houston had 13 guys on the field and it was not called.

  5. Greatest finish or comeback ever? Definitely. At the risk of being called “negative”, the coaching and play-calling of this game was far from the greatest. (Can’t wait for Mike’s honest assessment of the game up to the final drive!) Temple absolutely had to win this game and I am very happy about that. If the victory propels the Owls to “greater things”, then it could be Greatest.Win.Ever ! (And after all, Mike’s article title doesn’t claim that it was the greatest.GAME.Ever!!).

    • Greatest win ever, because it opens up a path to a league championship. Lose, and the path does not exist. Our destiny is in our own hands. We have only one league championship trophy in the E-O and it is from 1967. I maintain it was the greatest win ever because none of those other wins opened up the possibility of winning a league title, which is realistically the best Temple can hope to do as a football program outside the P5 cartel. That win, was, as Bernie or Donald would say, huuuuuuge. UCF won at ECU, 47-29, which beat NC State, which beat Notre Dame (and took Clemson to OT). Tulsa, which should have beaten Houston if not for the refs missing 13 men on the field, survived SMU, 43-40, a team the Owls beat, 45-20. Houston is not looking so invincible anymore and the Owls might be getting better. USF is the biggest hurdle. Put a spy on Quintin Flowers and away we go.

      • Very curious about your assessment of the coaching and play-calling for the entire game, not just the thrilling final drive and great result! Thanks.

      • Not great, but not the worst, either. Much worse against Army and Penn State. Coaches didn’t make a bad read on that option play (Praise did). Overall, mostly physical errors and not mental ones led to 25-7.

  6. I’ve got to say this is one of the most enigmatic versions of the Owls I can remember, which I believe is a direct reflection of their coach and QB. Walker’s performance this year has ranged from awful, as demonstrated in some of the untimely sacks and interceptions he’s tossed, to serviceable. Last nights final drive really blew me away as this was the version of PJW I had hoped for and frankly expected during his final act as QB for this team.

    I also thought MR made some very curious decisions during the game which I hope he’s able to learn from. I won’t reiterate some of the play calls that were made but rather would highlight one of the messages of his post game presser in which this was a learning opportunity.

    I was happy to finally see the owls show some fight this season which I hope provides a springboard for a strong run to a bowl game but I’m still concerned about the amount of penalties and penchant for giving up the big play. For now I’ll savor an incredible win and bask in the moment.

  7. I see the advantages for short stature Phillip to roll out to pass, but the disadvantage (shown by the UCF defense) is that the defense loads its secondary to that side, knowing that a throw to the other side is a long in the air throw and very risky. This was a heart stopper. Our guys never gave up despite playing really sloppy and not smart for most of the first half. I don’t know why we keep playing great for only one half of the game. That cost us a loss at Memphis and almost one last night. By the way, other exciting and great wins come to mind. There was that upset of Virginia Tech (ranked I think it was seventh at the time) at their homecoming event by a winless Temple team (If I recall right, it was with our backup qb, Mac Davis? at the helm) and the last minute win over Navy by BP’s long run from scrimmage. Rabbi Dick White (Salisrab)

    • When the d loads up to the right, throw the ball to Thomas running a wheel route on the left, a shovel pass to someone in the spacer vacated by the rushing defenders, even a version of the screen Thomas scored on last night.

  8. The hi-lites should have included the three passes that preceded the TD pass. Still can’t process that they won. They had to have less than a one percent chance to win.

  9. Mike, HELP, what am I to think now about TU football for the rest of the year, the coaching staff, the qb play , the hopes for more 4 wins ? I am confused. ???? are they good / bad/ or un-predictable ????? We will be there Friday night to cheer then on.

  10. You got really personal, Mike, which made it one of your top blog posts.

  11. I have been very pro-Rhule since his hire, but this could have been his worst coaching game to date. I’m mot talking about game plan, or prep. I am talking about in game management. Forget about not kicking the field goals. I almost threw something at my tv at the end of the first half. 4th and 1 at about the 45 with :35 left. Rhule has to call that time out. No way UCF would have gone for it and risk TU getting the ball back that close to midfield. They would have punted. Instead, you gave them a free shot at the end zone. It ended up in a sack, but why take the chance?

    Its these situations that scare me about Rhule. Terrible in game management!

    • I think Rhule has been assessed here fairly accurately, good recruiter, good “CEO” of the program, great face of the University who has some shortcomings as a game day coach. I don’t think he is alone there, it’s tough and very expensive to find coaches nowadays that cover all the bases well. To me the key is getting good coordinators who can handle the game management.

      • That is a great point about how tough it is to find a “great” gameday coach. You can count those on one hand. Heck, Nick Saban might be one but we will never really know because all he gets is five-star recruits. I know damn well Wayne Hardin was one. Present day, Bobby Petrino is one. Jeff Brohm (Western Kentucky) is one. Ken Niumatalolo (Navy) is one. I would be hard-pressed to come up with guys who consistently get more out of their talent than those guys and that’s really what makes a great gameday coach. At the very top is a guy like Niumatalolo and at the very bottom is Steve Addazio. Somewhere in the middle of that 126-coach group is Matt Rhule.

  12. Aided by hurricane force running game, the Owls overcame first half doldrums, mounted a thunderous defense with a lightning fast pass rush and stormed in on a 70-yard, 30-second winning derecho drive. A definitive team victory and windy game summary.

  13. Good game to adjust to a SEC-type speed defense. UCF LB’s and DB’s closed quickly to shut down openings. USF just as fast if not faster. Backs will need to keep their heads up on quick openers, and receivers should secure ball on receptions before thinking about YAK because they will be getting thumped very quickly.

  14. This team could finish strong if the defense can stop giving up big plays. It hurt them at PSU, killed them against Memphis and almost beat them at UCF. They need some help in the middle of the field, inside LB and strong safety look very vulnerable.

    • Both Mike and I have been “screaming” for Rhule to move Sharga back to his strongest position, LB! WOULD SOME REPORTER PLEASE ASK HIM ABOUT THIS AT A PRESS CONFERENCE?! Seems like there is a long run every game, right through the linebackers.

  15. good job, john. I will send him an email reminding him that you sent him that email. 🙂 Matt’s weekly meeting with the press is Tuesday (tomorrow). I know one thing. is about as likely to ask Matt that question as the real Pravda would have been asking Joe Stalin why he had 200 Red Army generals killed before WWII.

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