Temple's Harris honored for record performance

DAVID SWANSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Montel Harris scored seven touchdowns against Army.
DAVID SWANSON/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Montel Harris scored seven touchdowns against Army.
Posted: November 20, 2012

IT HASN'T gone according to the intended script.

When Montel Harris, Boston College's all-time leading rusher, transferred to Temple for his final season, he was supposed to team up with fellow senior Matt Brown to form a dynamic backfield.

But when one wasn't hurt, the other was. They've rarely played together. So we'll never know about the possibilities.

What we do know is that when Brown went down with a hamstring injury Saturday at Army, Harris - who'd gone out the week before with a knee injury - took over as few ever do.

When it was over, and the Owls (4-6) had broken a four-game losing streak with a 63-32 win, Harris had rushed for a Big East-record 351 yards (two more than Heisman Trophy runner-up Paul Palmer's Temple high from 1986) and seven touchdowns, one shy of the NCAA mark. For that effort, he was named Big East Offensive player of the week (placekicker Brandon McManus also was honored).

"To get a win, get a lot of records and celebrate with my teammates, that's a great memory," Harris, who missed a bunch of time the first month, said Monday. "I wasn't counting the yards. But once I started getting close to the record, I just did the best I could to get there.

"You hate to see anyone go down, especially Matt Brown. He's one of my best friends. Just knowing that he's always there on the sideline, high energy, motivating, keeping me going, you just have to step up.

"As I kept coming to the sideline he was, like, 'C'mon, Shorty, keep going. Get one more. You got 150, you've got to get 200. Get 200, you got to get 300.' He just kept encouraging me to get more."

In case you're wondering, the 5-10 Harris (and that's probably being generous) is 5 inches taller.

"It's been real frustrating," Harris conceded. "We talk about it all the time, saying it'll be hard to defend us if we're in games at the same time. It just hasn't happened. But we still have goals . . .

"For me, when I feel like I'm not performing the way I need to, if I'm kind of thinking too much, I try to relax and let things just take over for themself."

The Owls close the regular season Friday morning against Syracuse (6-5) at Lincoln Financial Field. If they win, they might still have a chance to get into a bowl game, since there aren't enough eligible teams to fill all 70 slots right now.

"That was our goal at the beginning of the year, to get to a bowl game," Harris said. "Knowing that we still have a chance, that's big for us."

It would be bigger if they had Harris and Brown, who's day-to-day. But even if they just have Harris, well, there's nothing small about it.

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