Temple had overcome a 4th quarter deficit in the last two game to pull out a victory.
Number three just wasn’t in the cards on Halloween.
DeShon Kizer found Will Fuller in the back of the endzone for a late touchdown to lead the 9th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish over the #21 Temple Owls. It was the 1st time in the last five games that Temple had allowed a score in the 4th quarter In arguably the biggest game in program history, Temple (8-1) suffered its first loss of the year in heartbreaking fashion.
Notre Dame’s late touchdown, coupled with a game ending interception by Walker, put away the upset minded Owls, who left it all on the line early in the 4th.
After the Irish tacked on a 3rd quarter field goal to make it 17-10, Temple answered. Facing a 4th & goal from the 1, Coach Rhule elected to keep his offense on the field, and it payed off. The 69,280 fans at Lincoln Financial Field erupted as Jahad Thomas took the pitch, made a Notre Dame defender look silly, and found the end zone to tie the contest at 17-17. The 14 play, 72 yard drive knocked 7:21 off of the game clock. Thomas wound up with 82 yards and kept his streak of scoring in every game alive. The highlight of the drive was the first of two 4th down conversions, as Robby Anderson caught a beautifully thrown pass for 31 yards on a 4th & 4 to set up the tying score.
After the Irish went three and out, Temple responded once again to take back the lead. A 2nd and long pass was miraculously hauled in Ventell Bryant to move Austin Jones into field goal range. The 36 yard attempt was good and put the Owl’s up 20-17 with 4:45 left in the game. Bryant, who led all receivers with 7 catches for 91 yards, was instrumental in keeping the game close.
Notre Dame opened the game by marching downfield for a touchdown. Kizer took advantage of a pass interference and capped off a 12 play, 74-yard drive with a four yard scamper into the end zone. He finished the night with 137 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and threw for 299.
The opening touchdown was the first time Temple has allowed points on an opening drive since October of 2014.
After a late first quarter field goal from Austin Jones to cut the score to 7-3, Notre Dame found themselves back in the redzone. However, Kizer wildly tossed one up and Praise Martin Oguike picked it off. The Owls then marched 94 yards, highlighted by Jahad Thomas breaking loose for a 43 yard rush, to get into the end zone on a 12 yard pass from Walker to Brandon Shippen to take a 10-7 lead. Walker was effective on the night. He finished 13/30 for 188 yards with the touchdown the the late interception. He also had 38 rushing yards.
Notre Dame needed only one big play to take the lead right back. On a option run, Kizer kept it and outran the Owls’ secondary for a 79 yard TD run.
After Temple’s drive stalled, Notre Dame once again wound up in the red zone- and once again came up short. Tavon Young tipped Kizer’s throw over the middle and Tyler Matakevich was right there to make the interception. It was his career high 5th pick of the year, and he also added 13 tackles on the night. The second key red zone takeaway kept the score 14-10 going into the half.
Temple’s rushing defense, ranked 1st in the country, keyed in on the backfield. They held the nation’s 11th leading rusher, C.J. Prosise, to just 40 on the night and a dismal 1.8 yards per carry, his worst performance of the year. However, the Irish torched the Owls for 467 total yards.
Coming in as double-digit underdogs, the Owls fought hard, but against a national powerhouse like Notre Dame, it wasn’t quite enough. Temple will look to rebound next Friday as they head down to Dallas to take on SMU at 8:00.