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