With 30 seconds to play, no timeouts, and 70 yards ahead of him, Phillip Walker played the best he had all night.
At the tail end of a frustrating night that felt deemed to end in another frustrating loss, Walker played the best series of the season. The Senior found Ventell Bryant on consecutive passing plays of 20,16,and 26 yards down to the eight yard line. Then, running up to the line of scrimmage with the clock running, Walker surprised everyone and took the snap. Walker lofted one into the back of the endzone, finding 6’3 wide-receiver Keith Kirkwood for an eight yard touchdown with one second remaining to lead Temple to a 26-25 victory over UCF. The Owls took over second place in the American Athletic Conference Eastern division with the victory.Walker was 4-4 for 70 yards on the game winning drive. It was the Owls first win of the season when trailing at halftime.
The Owls used a strong second half to get back into the game after trailing by 18 points late in the first half. UCF opened the scoring early with a 55-yard touchdown pass from McKenzie Milton to Tre’Quan Smith to give the knights the early lead.
Walker responded on the Owl’s first drive of the game with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jahad Thomas. It was Thomas’ 3rd receiving touchdown of the season.
UCF proceeded to score 17 unanswered points on touchdowns of 16, and 63 yards. UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton scored one of his three total touchdowns on a 63 yard zone-read touchdown run in the second quarter.
Temple responded before the half with a nine play, 71 yard drive capped off by a seven yard touchdown run by Thomas. UCF would take a 25-14 lead heading into halftime.
The Owls opened the third quarter with a 14-play, 61 yard drive spanning over seven minutes ending with the first career field made for true-freshman kicker Aaron Bumehri. It was the first career attempt for Bumehri, who is replacing injured kicker Austin Jones.
Temple tacked on another field goal late in the third quarter to make it a 25-20 score heading into the final quarter.
With two fourth quarter drives moving past the UCF 30, the Owls were stopped on 4th and 15, and 4th and 18 deep in UCF territory, keeping the score 25-20.
The Owl’s defense forced a punt with :39 remaining, giving the offense 32 seconds at the 30-yard line to attempt a game winning drive.
Jahad Thomas had 20 carries for 120 yards and two total touchdowns in the game. He has scored two touchdowns in all five games he has played in this season. Ryquell Armstead totaled 78 yards behind Thomas. The Owls rushed for a total of 197 yards, remaining undefeated this season when rushing for at least 150-yards.
Phillip Walker was 12-24 for 167 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT. He was just 8-12 for 97 yards before the game winning drive. Wide-receiver Ventell Bryant had five receptions for 95 yards, 62 of which came on the final drive.
Defensively, the Owls shutout UCF in the second half, and forced a turnover on a Nate Hairston 4th quarter interception. Defensive end Haason Reddick totaled seven tackles in the game, along with two tackles for loss, and two sacks. Senior tight end Romond Deloatch had two sacks on the night, and once again made an impact on the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
True-Freshman kicker Aaron Bumehri was perfect on the night, hitting field goals of 32, and 47 yards; he was also 2-2 on extra point attempts.
Next week, Temple returns home to take on the eastern division leading USF Bulls Friday night at Lincoln Financial Field.