In the end, Temple prevailed, 41-10, at Lincoln Financial Field in what is the final scheduled Mayor's Cup game.
"Well, obviously you guys saw what happened," Villanova coach Andy Talley said. "When you give up three big plays - two because of turnovers and one turnover that they took back for a touchdown - you have a rough situation for a speed team like Temple."
The 57-yard interception return for a touchdown by Owls safety Vaughn Carraway and his fumble recovery on the ensuing drive that set up another score weren't game-breakers, though.
Senior tailback Matt Brown broke the game open with his 56-yard touchdown run with 21 seconds left in the first half, putting the Owls (1-0) ahead by 28-10.
After that run, the health of running back Montel Harris was arguably the only thing Temple's faithful were concerned about. The fifth-year senior, who transferred from Boston College this summer, stood on the sidelines in cherry sweatpants in the second half. After he carried five times for 12 yards, he left the game with a sore hamstring. The Owls didn't want to risk further injury by keeping him in the game.
"Montel going into the game had a strained hamstring," Addazio said. "We didn't really plan on playing him too much in this game. And we pulled him out of the game because it was sore."
Addazio thinks Harris will be able to play next Saturday against Maryland.
On this night, Temple didn't need the preseason all-American because Brown led an Owls rushing attack that compiled 301 yards. The 5-foot-5, 165-pounder carried the ball 19 times for 145 yards and returned a punt 45 yards.
"Matt Brown had a heck of a night," Addazio said. "He was his typical Matt Brown tonight.
"He was a warrior out there. He was relentless on kickoff and punt returns, running the ball, spinning."
Owls quarterback Chris Coyer added 80 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Coyer also completed five of 11 passes for 61 yards and a touchdown.
A rushing performance like Friday's is probably one of the reasons the Owls want this rivalry to resume. When the on-again, off-again matchup was renewed in 2009, it was dubbed the Mayor's Cup, and the teams played for possession of a trophy. Nick Yako kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired to give Villanova a 27-24 victory that season. But Temple has won the last three meetings.
In Villanova (0-1), Temple was facing a banged-up Football Championship Subdivision team. So this game was thought to be tune-up for an Owls squad beginning its second go-round in the Big East.
Temple went ahead, 7-0, on Coyer's 8-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Harper on the Owls' opening possession. They extended their lead to 14-3 after Carraway returned his interception for a touchdown with 11 minutes, 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
Carraway set up the Owls' next touchdown by recovering Kevin Monangai's fumble on the ensuing possession.
Three plays later, Coyer scored from 19 yards out.
Temple's Brandon McManus kicked two late field goals (24, 31 yards), giving him a school-record 48 in his career. The Owls defense recorded four sacks.
Contact Keith Pompey at 215-854-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock. Read his blog, "Owls Inq," at www.philly.com/owlsinq