PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Marcus Green blocked a late field goal attempt and Montel Harris scored two touchdowns to lead Temple to a 37-28 victory over South Florida in a Big East Conference matchup on Saturday.
The game marked Temple’s re-entry into the Big East after the Owls were kicked out of the conference in 2004.
Temple snapped a two-game losing skid with the victory, improving to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the Big East. After South Florida opened the season with a pair of victories, the loss was the Bulls’ fourth-straight defeat, dropping them to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
“I thought our kids were scratching, and fighting and clawing and not relenting, and had two losses against two good football teams, and our kids never blinked,” Temple coach Steve Addazio said. “This is a great win for our program. It’s an emotional win. It’s Temple back in the Big East Conference, our first Big East game making a statement that our program is headed in the right direction and we’ll be a valued member in this conference.”
Harris, a transfer from Boston College, erupted for a season-best 133 yards on 24 carries and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Temple’s Chris Coyer was a very efficient 16 for 20 for 167 yards, throwing for one touchdown and scoring the first TD of the game on a 24-yard run on the Owls’ first possession.
“It was a great team effort, and my offensive line opened up some holes, but it was a great team win, and it was in the back of my mind that I wasn’t able to show people how good I could play,” said Harris, who had been hampered by a hamstring injury that limited him to 15 carries for 35 yards in two games. “I think this says we’re not just a team everyone can run over. I would say I think this week I felt my leg getting back to normal.”
South Florida was in position to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. But on third-and-one at the Temple 23, with around 1:30 left to play, Demetri Murray went wide and was pulled down by Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich, a true freshman who had a team-high 15 tackles, for a five-yard loss.
That forced Bulls’ kicker Maikon Bonani to try a 45-yard field goal, which was batted down by Green and picked up by Anthony Robey, who advanced the ball to the South Florida 35. Harris closed a strong day by taking a handoff 35 yards for a touchdown on the following play to seal Temple’s victory with 1:03 left.
“We had an inside play called initially,” said South Florida coach Skip Holtz, whose quarterback, B.J. Daniels, had limited mobility due to a sore ankle. “We had some success running up the middle, we just didn’t execute it. It wasn’t the play call at all. It was the execution. We played a great game and we’re all hurting a little bit. But I’ve yet to see anyone throw their arms up and put their heads in the sand. I think there’s a lot left to play.”
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.