Temple's late surge beats UConn, 30-16

Temple's Bernard Pierce dives into the end zone to score the Owls' first touchdown, in the second quarter. He scored two more touchdowns and ended up with 169 yards rushing.
Temple's Bernard Pierce dives into the end zone to score the Owls' first touchdown, in the second quarter. He scored two more touchdowns and ended up with 169 yards rushing.
Posted: September 19, 2010

Temple defensive end Adrian Robinson was high-stepping down the sideline with the football tucked under his arm. It was about midway through the fourth quarter of the Owls' nonconference game against Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday, and Robinson was about to give Temple the lead for good.

"That 40 time I have, I thought one of the running backs or receivers were going to catch me,'' said Robinson, who scored on a 24-yard return after recovering a fumble forced by Temple linebacker Elijah Joseph. It was the game's fifth and final lead change.

The Owls capped a 30-16 win over the Huskies with two more scores in the final five minutes, 54 seconds to raise their record to 3-0. Connecticut, of the Big East Conference, fell to 1-2.

Next week, Temple, the favorite for the Mid-American Conference championship, plays 2-1 Penn State at State College.

Yesterday's win was the third time Temple had played UConn since coach Al Golden took over the Owls in 2006. Both previous encounters went down to the wire and ended in Temple losses.

"We're a Division I team now," said Golden, whose team was in rebuilding mode the last two times it met the Huskies. "We lost a lot of close games as we were growing up, and that was because of a lot of things. But also because we were tired. I don't know the final count [on Saturday], but I bet you we played 56 people in the game."

On Saturday, the Huskies wiped out a one-point halftime deficit with a 59-yard touchdown run by Jordan Todman (192 yards on 26 carries) at the beginning of the third quarter. The 5-9, 193-pound Todman, who used the right sideline to make his getaway, ran through at least five tackle attempts to give UConn a 13-7 advantage.

However, it would be Todman who wound up losing the fourth-quarter fumble that Robinson, the MAC defensive player of the year last fall, returned for a TD.

Temple's Bernard Pierce, a sophomore who started for the first time this season after leading the MAC in rushing in 2009, put his team ahead again, 14-13, when he scored for the second time on a one-yard run with 5:21 to go in the third period.

Pierce, who set an Owls single-season record for touchdowns with 16 in '09, finished with 169 yards on 26 attempts and three TDs. He had 140 yards rushing during the last two quarters.

"Bernard started to take over, and I was reluctant to take him out," Golden said.

UConn recaptured the lead, 16-14, when Dave Teggart kicked a 47-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.

Then, the Temple defense came through as Joseph separated the ball from Todman and Robinson took it to the end zone to put the Owls ahead, 20-16.

"I wanted to tell the guys to keep attacking," Golden said. "I wanted them to have some poise, and understand that this game is going to be won in the fourth quarter."

UConn broke out on top, 3-0, when it stopped Temple on the first possession of the game and Teggart kicked his first of three field goals, a 36-yarder.

With 30 seconds left in the first quarter, Temple challenged an out-of-bounds call by the game officials after the Owls threw out of punt formation on fourth down. On the play, Temple punter Jeff Wathne tossed the ball to Muhammad Wilkerson, an all-MAC defensive tackle who also helps out special teams. Wilkerson stepped out of bounds just before reaching the first-down marker at the Owls' 34-yard line.

The call was upheld upon review, but Teggart missed a 48-yard field goal attempt as the second quarter began.

Later, UConn lost a challenge when Huskies coach Randy Edsall asked for a review after Pierce took a screen pass and went 27 yards for Temple's first TD. Pierce broke through two tacklers near the sideline before diving into the end zone.

UConn claimed Pierce stepped out, but the replay showed that he did not, and Temple had a 7-3 lead with 12:24 remaining in the half.

The Huskies trailed, 7-6, at intermission after Teggart was good on a 26-yard try with two seconds left.

Notes. Over 100 former Owls, from as far back as 1961, were on the Temple sideline during the game. Ex-Temple coach Wayne Hardin also was in attendance.

Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

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