Temple Owls

No cupcake here: Temple barely survives feisty Villanova

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No cupcake here: Temple barely survives feisty Villanova

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Pop quiz: what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear an FCS team is visiting an FBS team on any given weekend?

Mismatch?

Blowout?

Cupcake?

Don’t tell that to FCS No. 6 Villanova. And surely don’t tell that to Temple, which got all it could handle and more while barely surviving the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field (see observations).

A defensive struggle turned spicy late as Villanova’s fourth-quarter rally was snuffed out by a two-minute drive led by redshirt sophomore QB Logan Marchi and a 49-yard winning field goal off the foot of Aaron Boumerhi with a minute left, both of which propelled the Owls to a 16-13 victory over their rivals from the Main Line.

Temple improved to 1-1 on the young season after last week’s shellacking at Notre Dame. Villanova fell to 1-1 on the campaign.

It was far, far from pretty, but it was the first win in the head coaching career of Temple’s Geoff Collins.

“That’s a really good football team we just played against,” a relieved Collins said after the game. “There’s no doubt they should be ranked in their division — a really good team. They fought till the very end. I thought they had some really good second-half adjustments.”

Both teams slogged through this one for the better part of three quarters and change.

The only time the announced 35,117 in the crowd came to their feet in the first three quarters was when Marchi, who ended up with 274 passing yards on the day, executed a flawless eight-play, 75-yard two-minute drill that led to fullback Nick Sharga’s TD plunge from a yard out with a single second left in the first half to give the Owls a 10-0 lead.

On that drive, Marchi threw for 77 yards on five completions, including a tipped pass that was caught by Ventell Bryant for 15 yards, a 32-yard strike over the middle to Isaiah Wright and a 17-yard throw to a diving Adonis Jennings, who hauled in the fastball at the Villanova 1-yard line with :05 left on the clock.

Sharga scored on the next play.

It was an important cushion the Owls wound up needing in the end.

“We knew we had to move the ball down the field there and that’s kind of our offense, being able to do that and get on the ball,” Marchi said. “We executed those plays well. I’m not going to lie, we had a couple lucky tips there. The one to Ventell ended up getting tipped and he made a great play on that. Getting the ball to those players there is what we need to do.”

“We practice that every other day,” Collins said of the end-of-half scramble to the endzone. “We go ‘Mayday Alert.’ We get something going, we go full speed and try to get points.”

After an uneventful third, things blasted up more than a few notches in fourth.

Early in the final quarter, Villanova senior QB Zach Bednarczyk continued to tear up the Temple pass defense as he had all day long. But this time, the Owls finally broke.

Bednarczyk hit wideout Taurus Phillips in the middle of the endzone on a slant to make it a 13-10 contest with 10:12 left. Things were now officially itchy for the Owls, who had zero answer for Bednarczyk’s arm.

After the rushing attack headed by Matt Gudzak and Aaron Forbes spearheaded a 266-yard effort in the Wildcats’ win over Lehigh last week, it went for just a measly 20 yards on Saturday afternoon against the Owls.

But with the way Bednarczyk was carving up the Temple defense almost effortlessly through the air, who needed a rushing attack?

Bednarczyk went 27 for 41 for 382 yards and the touchdown to Phillips. The Owls were basically at his mercy, especially in the second half when he went 19 for 24 for 284 yards and the TD.

“He’s a lot faster than they give him credit for,” Temple defensive end Sharif Finch said of Bednarczyk. “He’s pretty elusive and he has a good arm. So I think they have a great quarterback. He handled his business today.”

It was an interesting dynamic that played out on the field for the Temple defense.

Last week, the Owls’ defense was scorched by Notre Dame's rushing attack to the tune of 422 yards and five touchdowns. It was the complete opposite story Saturday. Sure, Villanova isn’t Notre Dame, but Temple’s defense struggled miserably against the pass on Saturday.

But Collins was quick to give credit to what the Wildcats did.

“Their quarterback is really savvy,” Collins said of Bednarczyk and the Villanova passing attack, both of which haunted his team all day long. “He was able to be slippery and make plays. I give credit to them. “

The Wildcats continued to assert themselves and their momentum continued to grow in the fourth quarter to the point where a 34-yard Drew Kresge field goal allowed Villanova to tie the game at 13-13 with 3:29 left.

If things were itchy on the Temple sideline before, well, now a rash had officially broken out.

And it was up to Marchi, in just his second career start, to lead the offense late in an effort to snuff out the Wildcats’ upset bid.

“Guys were coming up to me on the sideline saying, ‘You got this, you got this,’” Marchi said. “In your head, it’s just like practice. You go out and you throw the ball where it needs to be thrown. You run the plays that need to run. The time difference changes the pace of the game, but it doesn’t change your mindset.”

Marchi then went out and engineered a seven-play drive that included a lovely one-handed grab by Bryant, who missed last week’s loss, for 29 yards that got the Owls into Wildcats’ real estate. Bryant led the Owls with seven grabs and 79 yards on the day.

But the drive stalled, putting the responsibility on the shoulders of sophomore kicker Aaron Boumerhi to hit from 49 yards out. He had nailed one from 44 yards earlier in the day, but had also missed wide left from 48 yards.

He stayed true and drilled a career-long field goal with a minute left to put the Owls up 16-13.

“I try not to think about the last kick. It’s a new kick now,” Boumerhi said. “I just wanted to put it through the uprights and help my team win. I knew what I did wrong on the first kick. I was just worried about correcting that.

“I was pretty nervous… It was the first time I ever had to make a crucial kick like that with the game on the line.”

But Bednarczyk and the ‘Cats still had a pulse. They had a minute left to punch Temple in the gut and force OT or even leave with the upset, just as they did in 2009 and 2003. Two of Villanova’s three FBS wins have come at the expense of the Owls.

And they drove into Temple territory as the clock trickled down. Bednarczyk hit Gudzak over the middle, but the RB was stripped by Temple linebacker Shaun Bradley and Finch recovered to save the day and wipe the sweat off the collective brow of the cherry and white faithful.

The slugfest was over. But much was learned. What exactly?

The ‘Cats are still a legit FCS threat.

And the Owls have a plethora of things to work on and bumps to smooth out if they want to be taken seriously in the AAC.

Fran Dunphy will step aside after next season, be replaced by Aaron McKie

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Fran Dunphy will step aside after next season, be replaced by Aaron McKie

Next season will be the last for Fran Dunphy at Temple, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark.

Dunphy, 69, will step aside after what will be his 13th season with the Owls next year. Former Sixers guard and Temple alum Aaron McKie, who has been on Dunphy's staff as an assistant since 2014, will take the program's reins after Dunphy steps aside.  

The move was first reported by CBS Sports' Seth Davis.

Dunphy's legendary status in the city reaches well beyond North Broad Street. Dunphy has been a part of Big 5 basketball for the last 51 years, beginning his journey as a guard for La Salle (1967-70) before joining the staff as an assistant coach.

Dunphy was named the head coach at Penn in 1989, where he cemented his legacy during an unprecedented 17-year stint that featured a 310-163 record, including an unheard of 48 straight Ivy League wins and 10 Ivy League titles.

In 2005, Dunphy jumped ship to Temple, where he quickly turned around the program, winning the first of three straight Atlantic 10 championships in just his second season at the helm. 

Now, Dunphy is Temple's third-most winningest coach with a 230-136 record. 

Should Dunphy retire after next season, he will leave behind an impeccable coaching career, featuring a 540-299 career record, including 17 20-win seasons, 16 NCAA Tournament appearances and 14 conference championships.

McKie (1991-94) is sixth on Temple's all-time scoring list, averaging 17.9 points per game. McKie, who spent eight years with the Sixers, has served as an assistant under Dunphy since 2014.

Temple put back on its heels in AAC tourney ouster

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Temple put back on its heels in AAC tourney ouster

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ORLANDO, Fla. -- No. 11 Wichita State has advanced to the semifinals of American Athletic Conference tournament.

Barely.

Landry Shamet scored 24 points, Rashard Kelly had 16 and the Shockers held off pesky Temple for an 89-81 victory on Friday night.

Wichita State (25-6) also got a strong performance from its reserves, including 13 points from Austin Reaves. Next up is the winner of the Houston-Central Florida game.

The Shockers won two of three against the Owls this season, and the outcome was in doubt every time.

"We certainly do bring out the best in them," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "The bottom line is that they make a lot of shots against us, but we usually do get great contributions from our bench. We go 10 or 11 deep and that's a good thing."

Wichita State led 78-75 with 2:23 left and closed it out with 11 foul shots.

Temple stayed close with its perimeter shooting. The Owls went 11 of 24 from 3-pointg range and shot 50.9 percent from the field overall.

Quinton Rose led Temple (17-15) with 25 points. Shizz Alston and Josh Brown each had 15 points for the Owls, who didn't have enough depth to keep pace with Wichita State in the final minutes.

"I loved our fight, I loved how we were hanging with them each and every moment," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said. "I think late we just needed another basket, another stop, but they're a really good basketball team. They made some veteran plays at the right time."

The Shockers were clinging to a 63-61 lead with eight minutes to play when Reaves, fellow reserve Markis McDuffie and Kelly powered a key 13-3 run. The three combined for 11 points in the surge and helped cool off Rose while leading Wichita State to a 76-64 advantage with just over four minutes remaining.

Shaquille Morris made two foul shots to put the Shockers up 55-45 early in the second half, but the Owls rallied behind Rose. The sophomore guard scored 12 of his team's next 14 points to cut the deficit to 61-59 with 9:10 left.

"Quinton did a great job in that stretch and got us where we needed to be," Dunphy said. "But again, we needed a little better effort at the defensive end and just be a little smarter."

Big picture
Temple: The Owls had some nice early season wins -- Wisconsin, Clemson, Auburn, South Carolina -- but need to take the next step in the conference season. The Owls were only 8-10 in AAC play.

Wichita State: The Shockers are aching for a rematch with top-seeded Cincinnati, but first they'll have to get past the winner of the Houston-UCF game and they've struggled with both. Houston handed Wichita State its worst loss of the season, and UCF took the Shockers to overtime before losing in the second-to-last game of the regular season. Wichita State will need another good night from its reserves to reach the finals.