|Major props to the Temple fans who represented wearing Cherry on both sides of the stadium.|
_ Andy Talley, Villanova national championship coach and person
If there were any Villanova fans on the other side of the field, they were dressed in cherry.
If you go to the Temple-Villanova football game next year, best bring a defribulator.
That will be on my pre-game check list, right next to the Coors Light and the reduced fat wheat thins (hey, got to cut calories somewhere).
Defribulator because after the last two Temple-Villanova football games, I spent the hour or so afterward trying to start my heart again.
They’ve been that exciting.
The toughest part after Temple’s 31-24 last-second win over Villanova on Friday in front of a partisan Temple crowd at Lincoln Financial Field is getting back to a normal heartbeat again.
Watch the game here
I think I’m OK now.
Playing Villanova for the past two seasons has been that draining with a mixture of extreme disappointment and exhilaration.
Temple 31, Villanova 24.
Temple’s Justin Gildea, the kid from the Altoona area, put an exclamation point on the game with a fumble return for a touchdown on the last play.
First the officials said it didn’t count, then they correctly looked at the replay and said it did after the game was over.
Two scores in three seconds of clock time, about 15 seconds of real time. Two incredibly loud roars in the stands back-to-back.
The heroes, in my mind, were Brandon McManus, the Temple placekicker, who calmly stroked the game-winner with three seconds left and his holder, former Temple starting quarterback Vaughn Charlton.
Temple head football coach Al Golden said Charlton would be a major contributor to this team, but I think he might have been talking about tight end.
What Charlton did, using his 6-foot-5 frame to reach up as high as he could and put the ball down quickly for McManus, was a remarkable play: a winning play made by a winning kid.
His successor as Temple quarterback, Chester Stewart, could have packed it in after fumbling to give Villanova the lead (don’t know why he didn’t just hand it off to still-Heisman Trophy candidate Bernard Pierce on that third-and-1), but Stewart was another hero, orchestrating a game-winning drive.
Golden himself showed a remarkable insight into the Temple fan psyche with this quote:
“All the old time Temple people, they know,” Golden said. “A minute fifty left, fumble the snap, and there’s 250,000 alumni who shake their heads and say, here they go again.”
Man, the guy has been here only five years, but he nailed it.
I thought initially that 5-foot-5, 150-pound Matt Brown starting over Pierce was some kind of message Golden was sending to Pierce, but a few of the people on campus said that Pierce was seen limping around on his way to classes so he’s hurt.
He looked OK to me on the field.
Whatever, Villanova did a good job overall. It stacked the box, and Stewart only made them pay occasionally.
The Wildcats, with 16 starters back from a FCS (Division I-AA) team, will win the national championship again.
They are that good. If they stay relatively healthy, nobody is beating them.
They have a tough-as-nails quarterback, Chris Whitney, who for some inexplicable reason, Temple has refused to blitz for the past two years.
Villanova would be the second-best team in the MAC, in my opinion. That’s not a knock on the MAC as it is a tribute to what Andy Talley’s been able to do at Villanova.
I will go on record here as saying Temple will beat Central Michigan by a larger score than it won against Villanova.
People don’t give Division I-AA football enough credit.
Villanova has a lot of good, tough kids, and Andy Talley is a great, great coach. Is there a classier guy out there than Talley?
I don’t think so.
“I’m happy for Al,” Talley said after the game. “I expect big things from Temple.”
Most of all, I was happy for the Temple students.
There was a legitimate 32,163 in the stands, and I bet at least 27,163 were Temple fans. Of those, I bet there were about 15,000 Temple students.
When McManus’ kick went through and when Gildea scored his touchdown, I heard a wall of joyous sound louder than anything outside of an Eagles’ game in Lincoln Financial Field.
Those same Temple students could be heard walking out of the stadium last year, saying, “Same old Temple.”
This year I heard a new refrain.
“Let’s Go Temple,” they chanted on the way out.
Perceptions are changing, both inside and out.
These girls got to their seats way too early, but they had fun and that’s what was most important. I hope they recruit 15,000 more of their fellow students for the Central Michigan game on Thursday night. Somebody put this on Temple’s cable TV station. Nice job, girls.