Matt Falcone got me to thinking today.
Falcone posted one of those publicity shots you see of various Owls all dressed up on his Facebook page.
I posted this under his photo:
“Made a great block that sprung James Nixon on a 103-yard kickoff return.”
“It seems like only yesterday, Mike,” Matt replied.
“One of my favorite wins of the last eight years, if not the top one,” I wrote back.
“Agreed,” Matt said.
Certainly does feel like yesterday but “yesterday” was 2009 and it was Bernard Pierce’s freshman year. Sadly, due to three knee injuries, Temple did not get to see much of Matt Falcone except in that year.
Temple needed that block from Falcone and that touchdown from Nixon to beat a very good Navy team, 28-24.
The Owls needed every one of Pierce’s 268 yards and two touchdowns, too. They needed everything.
(Navy went on to be 10-4 and hammer Missouri, 35-14, in a bowl game.)
Temple would go on to nine wins and the Eagle Bank Bowl.
As much as I loved the bowl win and how important it was to the school, the Navy win was my favorite.
Navy beat Notre Dame the next year on the road and Temple won at Navy’s house. The win immediately legitimized Temple on the national scene and the Owls remained legitimate until Steve Addazio ruined things last year. The take the media has on it was that Temple was stepping up in class and could not handle the transition.
My take was (and is) that the 2009 Temple team could handle the transition, as well as the 2010 team, etc. Daz lost offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and did not trust Ryan Day to run a normal offense.
My top five Temple wins in the last eight years:
5. Temple 28, Bowling Green 14 _ Win breaks a 20-game losing streak. Watching in the club seats with fellow Temple fans, Sal and Chris, who saw a lot of those 20-straight losses made this win great. Adam DiMichele seals it by throwing a flea-flicker pass to Travis Sheldon (after handing off to Tim Brown, who pitched it back to DiMichele).
4. Temple 38, Maryland 7 _ Temple jumped out to a 31-0 lead at halftime on the way to its first-ever win over an ACC team (although Owls beat Wake Forest when the Demon Deacons were not in the ACC) . A 38-0 lead with six minutes left could have easily become 45-0 as the Owls got a first-and-goal on the Maryland 1-inch line and the Owls took three knees after that. Maryland scores on the Owls’ third-team defense.
3. Temple 30, UConn 16 _ Justice delayed was not justice denied. Temple felt it was screwed out of a win at UConn by a Big East replay official in 2007, then lost in overtime in 2008 before beating the Big East champions by two touchdowns at Lincoln Financial Field. The big plays were Adrian Robinson stealing the ball from Jordan Todman and scoring a touchdown and Jaiquawn Jarrett delivering a bone-jarring hit of Todman that destroyed the Huskies will to win or even carry the ball against the Temple defense.
2. Temple 37, Wyoming 15 _ The Owls’ first bowl win in over 30 years was sweet as quarterback Chris Coyer earned MVP honors. Loeffler had to talk Addazio out of running out the clock just before the half and the result was a long Coyer touchdown pass to Rod Streater.
1. Temple 28, Navy 24 _ There was an element of justice in this one, too, as the Owls avenged a particularly bitter loss from the year before in overtime. One of the Navy fans blew a whistle on fourth down and the Owls’ defense stopped playing thinking the whistle was the ref and the play resulted in a touchdown. The next year, the Owls had their greatest running back since Paul Palmer and Navy could do little to stop him.
The one common denominator of all these wins? Matt Rhule was coaching the Owls in some important capacity on the sidelines. Let’s hope that’s a portent of things to come.