One of the most revealing things about knowing the players of past Temple football teams is talking to them about the games that got away.
To a man, they don’t talk about the victories as they do about the defeats.
Mostly, gut-wrenching ones like the current Owls suffered the last two weeks, the ones that rip your heart out and should have never happened due to one coaching blunder or an officiating mistake.
This space today is dedicated to those guys who played in these games and our original intent was to rank them on the pain meter from less painful to most painful but, after taking a look at them, they are all pretty much equal in the sense that they should have never happened and will always be the ones that got away.
1996: Pitt 53, Temple 52
Holding a 52-33 lead with 2:44 left in the game, then Temple coach Ron Dickerson elected to go for it on fourth and two instead of punting at midfield. Pitt got the stop, scored quickly, then successfully executed a pair of onsides’ kicks to pull it out. After the game, Dickerson submitted his resignation, saying, “my players deserve a smarter coach than me.” Resignation was not accepted by the powers-that-be.
2007: UConn 22, Temple 17
Replays showed Bruce Francis clearly caught the ball on a pass off a reverse with one foot down in the back of the end zone to give Temple the lead with 12 seconds left in the game, but the MAC officials waved it off and a replay by Big East official Jack Kramer upheld the call on the field. All of the sports television network commentators said Temple was jobbed out of a win but that was small consolation to the Owls.
2007: Navy 33, Temple 27 (OT)
With 17 seconds a playing a triple option team with no timeouts, second-year head coach Al Golden eschewed the punt and went for the first down on a fourth-and-one in his own territory. The late Kee-Ayre Griffin fumbled the handoff, it was picked up by a Navy linebacker, who ran into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown as time expired. Had the punt been called, Navy would have had to go the length of the field with 17 seconds and no time outs. Probably wasn’t going to happen and Griffin probably wasn’t to blame as much as the decision not to punt the ball.
2008: Buffalo 30, Temple 28
On the final play of the game, Drew Wiley heaved a pass almost as far as he could throw it and it landed in the hands of Nathan Roosevelt for a 34-yard touchdown. That negated a heroic game by Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele, who did all that he humanly could in throwing what pretty much everyone thought was the game-winning touchdown to Bruce Francis with a minute left. That turned out to be too much time left on the clock. Incredibly, that was one of three close losses that year that made the difference between Temple being 5-7 and 8-4.
2017: Army 31, Temple 28 (OT)
This game might have been the most galling because Temple got a first down at the 1 with 3:16 left in the third quarter and, instead of pounding a tailback (Ryquell Armstead) Army could not stop behind a fullback (Nick Sharga) who his head coach called “the best in the country” the Owls inexplicably went to a shotgun formation on first down and got zero points out of that drive. Temple’s entire identity in back-to-back 10-win seasons was built around pounding the ball at the goal line and the Owls beat themselves by not being true to the Temple TUFF mantra. Temple would have been sitting on a 14-point lead, not a seven-point one, when Army hit a pass with one second left to send the game into overtime. That game wasn’t decided on the last play of overtime as much as it was when the head coach did not exert enough influence over his rogue offensive coordinator late in the third quarter.
Saturday: Around The AAC