By: Ben Medland @BenMedland
PHILADELPHIA –On Saturday, the Temple Owls played host to the Villanova Wildcats to kick off the 2018 season. Both teams enter the season with second year head coaches in Mark Ferrante (Villanova) and Geoff Collins (Temple). Last year, the Owls finished 7-6 and Villanova finished with a 5-6 record. The history between the two local schools runs deep, with the series now being tied at 16 wins apiece.
The Wildcats came into the game looking to completely avenge their losing record last season, and did so with an 19-17 victory over the Owls.
In their first drive, the Wildcats took only 8 plays to travel 70 yards down field for a touchdown. Ryan Bell was the recipient of a one-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Zach Bednarczyk.
The Owls then had their turn but only got a 46-yard field goal to show for by junior Aaron Boumerhi.
The Wildcats had all of the momentum in the first quarter after scoring another touchdown on an 11 play, 76-yard drive making the score 13-3.
With Villanova up 13-3, Temple looked lost for answers. Nova marched down the field again, hungry for another score. As the Wildcats approached the red zone, Temple’s defense stopped them, forcing Villanova to attempt a field goal. Villanova’s field goal by Drew Kresge was then blocked by Owls defensive end Quincy Roche. Kimere Brown quickly picked up and returned the blocked kick for a 74-yard Owl’s touchdown.
Villanova entered the half with a slight 13-10 lead, and it seemed that the momentum had changed in favor of the Owls.
This held true for most of the second half, as the Owls and Wildcats exchanged the lead two more times before the game was over. With 5:45 left to go in the third quarter, Temple’s quarterback Frank Nutile found receiver, Isaiah Wright in the corner of the end zone for a beautiful 15-yard touchdown. This brought the score to 17-13 in favor of Temple.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Villanova found the shift in momentum that they needed. Bednarczyk, turned a near sack into a 30-yard touchdown completion on fourth and nine. The recipient of the touchdown was former Archbishop Wood Viking, Jarrett McClenton. McClenton’s touchdown ended up being the game winner for the Wildcats (19-17 due to blocked PAT).
With seven minutes remaining, the pressure shifted on Nutile and the Owls. However, Nutile was picked-off by Jeff Steeb and the Wildcats began to chew the clock.
Nutile then got the ball back with a minute and change to go, but was picked off yet again by the Wildcats defense, this time by Elijah Trent. This ultimately ended the game, with the Wildcats beating the Owls, 19-17.
After the game, Temple’s head coach Geoff Collins spoke to the media and credited the Wildcats on a job well-done.
“Yeah, defensively, they (Villanova) probably pressured a lot more than they did last year…Hats off to them, they did a really nice job,” said Collins.
When asked about Nutile’s shaky day, Collins stuck by the senior quarterback.
“I know Frank was probably frustrated with himself, I think he did a good job,” said Collins. “There were just some throws that were off, but Frank is a competitor, and he did throw some good balls out there.”
Nutile did not target the long ball against Nova, despite Temple’s success going deep last year against the Wildcats. When addressing the media, the 6’4’’ QB took responsibility for the loss.
“I think a big part of it was myself, just missing the throws in the short game,” said Nutile.
Temple’s deep threat was something that was mentioned a lot post game. However, eliminating the Owl’s long ball was the Wildcats plan all along.
“As corners we just stayed on top,” said Villanova cornerback Jaquon Amos.
Moving forward Amos looks to use this game as a building block.
“We have a lot of momentum, after this win, I feel like we are going to have a great season.”
Villanova will travel to play Lehigh next Saturday and Temple will return to the Linc to host Buffalo.