In game that was a battle between two defenses, it came down to a play involving kicker Tylerr Mays.
With 2:50 to go after an Kip Patton touchdown run and a two point conversion to cut the deficit to eight, the Owls elected to try go for an onside kick to get the ball back. Mays tapped a dribbler right down the middle, and the bulky kicker followed the ball and appeared to dive on top first before the swarm of players crashed into the pile. While Temple players originally thought they had the ball, the refs ruled differently. The ball was awarded to Toledo after a lengthy delay, causing a furious Matt Rhule and Robby Anderson to get the in the face of the officials.
“Yeah I thought we had the onside kick…I still think we had the kick…that’s a really heart breaking thing,” said Rhule after the game.
Kareem Hunt put an end to any further comeback plans for the Owls, busting off a 41 yard touchdown run to put the game away. Hunt rumbled for 82 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Co-Boca Raton Bowl MVP Phillip Ely led the Toledo Rockets to a 32-17 victory, throwing for 285 yards on 20 for 29 passing during extreme rain at times in South Florida.
Coming off of a sloppy offensive performance against Houston, Temple’s offense started slow once again against Toledo. The Owls struck first as Austin Jones drilled a field goal with 1:13 left in the first quarter. That 13 play 40 yard drive was the only drive for the Owls that didn’t result in a punt or a turnover in the first half. The offense managed just 67 yards on the half.
On the other side of the ball, Temple’s secondary struggled to contain the Rocket’s wide variety of targets as 7 receivers combined for 168 yards. The purveyor of these catches, Phillip Ely, was near perfect in the half completing 15 of his 21 attempts, and his offensive line continued their stellar pass protection as Ely wasn’t sacked once. Toledo capitalized on Temple’s huge second quarter mishap by Temple, a fumbled exchange between Walker and Thomas that fell out of the end zone, resulting in a safety. The Rockets scored on the ensuing possession on a short field, as Ely connected with Corey Jones for a 26 yard score, with several Owls missing tackles on the play.
Temple received the ball in the second half and seemed to be alive. Previously silent P.J Walker connected with Ventell Bryant for 40 yards on a crossing route, which set up a 25 yard field goal. Walker finished 23/42 for 236 yards and an interception. The offense then wasted no time putting points on the board again as good field position led to yet another field goal from Austin Jones, this time from 35 yards out, that narrowed the Toledo lead to just 3 points, at 12-9.
With 12:53 left in the game, Phillip Ely wasted no time getting the Rockets firing. He found his favorite target Cody Thompson on the first play from scrimmage for an 80 yard catch and run that extended the Rocket’s lead, widening the score 19-9. Thompson finished as the game’s leading receiver, with 119 yards. The strike deflated any Temple momentum put together in their prior two drives.
On the ensuing drive, Jawan Haines put a sudden halt to the Owls 6 play, 36 yard drive with his first interception of his career on Temple’s 26 yard line. The Rocket’s ensuing 12 play, 74 yard drive ate up 5:31 and put the comeback just too far out of reach for Walker and the Owls.
In a bright spot for the Owls, Tyler Matakevich, donning the cherry and white for the final time, cemented his legacy for Temple. He racked up 12 tackles- once again leading the team, to bring his career total to 493. He now stands alone as Temple’s all-time leader.