Central Florida defeats Temple on final play

Central Florida players celebrate after the Knights kicked the field goal that downed Temple.
Central Florida players celebrate after the Knights kicked the field goal that downed Temple. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff)
Posted: November 18, 2013

For the second time in two weeks, Temple experienced the piercing agony of letting an opposing wide receiver run free in its secondary.

On Saturday, the Owls, who played No. 15 Central Florida evenly for the entire game, suffered a huge breakdown in the secondary. They gave up a 64-yard bomb in the final 19 seconds that set up the game-winning field goal as time expired in a 39-36 loss at Lincoln Financial Field.

UCF (8-1, 5-0 American Athletic) survived a scare from the Owls (1-9, 0-6) when receiver Rannell Hall got behind Owls cornerback Anthony Robey and hauled in the pass from Blake Bortles. Two plays later, Knights kicker Shawn Moffitt drilled a 23-yard, game-winning field goal as time expired.

The game-winning drive began 70 yards away from the end zone with 19 seconds left on the clock.

"We were telling everybody to back up, back up," Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "We need to have all 11 guys doing what they are supposed to do, and at the end of the game we didn't. [Hall] stuttered, and our kid jumps it. That falls back on me, but at some point you are going to have to do what you are told."

A crestfallen Robey admitted as much.

"It was stupidity on my part; I have to be smarter than that," Robey said. "I have to be smarter. I broke on the first move he gave me. I should have known he was going to go deep. I have to be smarter."

Two weeks ago, the Owls fell to Rutgers, 23-20, when they gave up a 33-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds left.

Saturday's loss was more painful because it came as the Owls played their most complete game of the season against a ranked foe.

Temple freshman quarterback P.J. Walker completed 26 of 44 passes for 382 yards - the third-highest, single-game total in school history - threw four touchdowns, and rushed for another. Two of those touchdowns went to receiver Robby Anderson, who finished with eight receptions for 184 yards.

"We felt like we were better than them, but this is another game where we came up short," Walker said. "It hurts because they are a ranked team, and we felt like it was our game. I felt like we had the game."

In a game that featured 10 lead changes, the Owls took their last when Walker threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Parthemore with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left. Parthemore caught the two-point conversion to put Temple up by 36-29.

But the Knights squeezed 134 passing yards into the final 1:58 around a 41-second Temple drive. The Owls earned a first down on a pass play, but Jalen Fitzpatrick caught the ball on the sideline and fell out of bounds, stopping the clock.

The Knights got a one-handed, 30-yard touchdown catch from J.J. Worton (10 catches, 179 yards, three touchdowns) with 1:06 to play, and then came the clutch reception by Hall (nine catches, 159 yards).

"Rannell [Hall] said that Temple was sitting on everything and jumping things outside," said Bortles, who was 27 of 38 for 404 yards and four touchdowns. "He told me he was going to go, and he went and made a big play."


jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer

www.inquirer.com/owlsinq

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