In a defensive battle the entire game, filled with punts and turnovers, the Temple Owls prevailed for a victory against FIU by a score of 28-3.
FIU’s starting QB Alex McGough went down on their 3rd offensive play suffering a broken collarbone. So, FIU Head Coach Butch Davis entered sophomore QB Maurice Alexander who had only thrown 6 passes all season long.
Temple’s first 4 drives resulted in a punt, fumble, another punt and a turnover on downs. FIU’s first 4 drives resulted in a punt, an interception and then two more punts. It wasn’t until 7 seconds gone in the 2nd quarter that the first score was made. A 4-yard Frank Nutile run finally broke the scoring drought.
It wasn’t until 3:12 to go in the third quarter that the game saw its next score, a 27-yard field goal by FIU. Following the field goal, Temple went on to score touchdowns on 3 of their last 4 possessions. The first of the three came on a 1-yard run by David Hood after appearing to fumble it, it was reviewed and ruled he had crossed the plane before he lost control. The second was on a 45-yard catch and run by Isaiah Wright, and the final score of the game came on a Ryquell Armstead 5-yard run.
QB Frank Nutile was named the Bowl Game MVP. He finished the game completing 18 of 28 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown plus 18 yards rushing including his 4-yard TD run. Even with the QB controversy early in the season, Temple was able to record 3,273 passing yards which are second most in program history. Only 51 yards short of the most all-time set last season.
Junior RB’S David Hood and Ryquell Armstead each finished their season strong rushing for a combined 127 yards and two touchdowns. Armstead has been banged up for the majority of the season and is a true testament to his mental and physical strength to be able to finish out this season with a strong performance heading into his senior season. For David Hood, it was all about the seniors.
“It just feels good to be able to send our seniors out with a win. They’ve been preaching ’27 wins, 27 wins.’ It’s just been sitting on my heart to send Adonis and Kirkwood out with a win,” said the junior RB.
Mentioning Keith Kirkwood and Adonis Jennings, those two along with Isaiah Wright each finished the game with impressive lines. Wright with 5 catches for 73 yards, 45 of them coming on his long touchdown in the fourth quarter. Keith Kirkwood led all receivers, however, with 6 receptions totaling 96 yards. For Jennings, 3 catches for 51 yards, 39 of which came on a spectacular play where he was tripped up and fell to the turf but ended up making the catch on his back at the FIU 1-yard line.
This was a breakout season for Jennings as he totaled 742 yards receiving on 42 catches, almost doubling his production from last season. In fact, his 742 yards this season are the 9th most ever in the history of the program. He finished 17th in career receiving yards(1,362), Kirkwood sits at 10th all-time (1,638) and Ventell Bryant is 7th (1,754). Jennings finishes his career tied for 15th all-time in receptions with 89, Kirkwood finishes 11th all-time with 103 receptions, while Bryant enters his senior season tied for 5th all-time with 122 receptions, needing 44 to sit at number 1.
The Owls finished their season with an 8 game streak of gaining 390 or more yards of offense. The team’s 5,046 yard of total offense this season is 3rd most all time, only trailing the teams from the previous two seasons.
For Temple’s defense, they set a Gasparilla Bowl record with 7 sacks. LB Will Kwenkeu led the way last night with 2. Also, contributing to that feat was Sam Franklin, Dan Archibong, Dana Levine, Sharif Finch, and Quincy Roche. Roche finished his freshman season with 7 sacks which are the 3rd most ever by a Temple freshman. This was also the first season in Temple history that the team had 3 players with
7 or more sacks, Sharif Finch-8.5, Jacob Martin-8, Quincy Roche-7. The defense totaled 39 sacks this season which is good for 3rd most all-time, 4 behind the leading season.
Sharif Finch finished with 32 career tackles for loss which is 5th all-time, he had 15.5 this season which is 6th most in a season. Sean Chandler finishes his career sitting at 17th on Temple’s all-time tackle list with 265 and 7th on the all-time interceptions list with 10.
In Head Coach Geoff Collins first season with the Owls, he posted a 7-6 record after starting 3-5. He was able to coach his team to win 3 of their last 4 games which got them to the bowl game and ultimately winning. This was Geoff Collins’ first bowl win as a head coach.
“Coaches put down a lot of rules and a lot of plans, but these guys are together 20 hours a day. We’re only with them three or four, and the way that they handled this bowl game was amazing,” said the first year head coach. “This trophy, the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl trophy, is really special to me because of who it represents. It represents this group of seniors, it represents the guys in that locker room and all that they have put into it.”
The senior class now has the final piece to add to their puzzle: a bowl game victory.