By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is the final game of the four-year contract between Temple and Villanova playing for the Mayor’s Cup. After Friday night, one school may be highly interested in extending the pact, while the other may not be able run away fast enough.
Temple opened its 2012 entry back into the Big East Conference for football by stomping local rival Villanova, a Big East school in every sport other than football, 41-10, before a Mayor’s Cup-series record crowd of 32,709 at Lincoln Financial Field. Villanova still leads the all-time series between the two schools, 16-15-2, but Temple has proven its dominance.
The Owls have won the last three Mayor’s Cup games—the last two by a combined 83-17. The Owls confirmed they’re way beyond Villanova’s level, too big, too strong and too fast for the smaller, slower Wildcats.
“Make no mistake about it, Temple was going to run the ball down our throats, which they did,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley said. “But we had some stops. You see a score like that, they’re playing close to 60 kids and we’re playing 32. Overall, they’re a better football team.”
Though, it was Temple’s diminutive dynamo Matt Brown that did a lot of damage. Listed at 5-foot-5, 165 pounds, but probably closer to 5-3, 155, Brown was the game’s top rusher, splintering the Wildcats’ defense for a game-high 145 yards on 19 carries, averaging an impressive 7.6 yards a carry, bolstered by his 56-yard second-quarter TD run. Sophomore Kenny Harper chipped in with two touchdowns, scoring the first TD of the game on an 8-yard shuttle pass in the opening quarter and his second on a 38-yard TD run with 12:19 left in the third quarter.
Villanova knew it couldn’t make any mistakes against the physically superior Owls, yet two second-quarter turnovers swayed the direction of the game.
A 57-yard interception return for a TD by Temple free safety Vaughn Carraway opened a 14-3 Temple lead with 11:24 left in the half. Three minutes later, Carraway recovered a fumble that led to quarterback Chris Coyer’s swerving 19-yard run and a 21-3 Temple advantage.
That was pretty much it.
Temple amassed 362 yards of total offense, 311 coming on the ground.
“It was a great crowd out there, a great rivalry game and the goal was to play a physical, tough game,” Temple coach Steve Addazio said. “On defense, we let up some big plays that we have to clean up, and I’d like to see us pass better. We also need to do a better job of finishing our blocks. That comes with youth. We wanted to play power football and we may have been a little vanilla, but that’s what I wanted to see us play, smash-mouth football.”
Villanova switched quarterbacks, going with John Robertson, whose four-yard run with 1:04 remaining in the second quarter was Villanova’s first and only touchdown.
Coyer finished with 80 yards on 13 carries, and topped it with a crunching, blindside block on a Villanova defensive back, who went flying. Coyer was an efficient 5 for 11, for 61 yards and a touchdown. Although the block is something Addazio prefers Coyer not do much more of in the future.
In fact, the last time Coyer threw a block like that, he was a senior in high school.
“I didn’t get hit at all during the game, and when I saw an opportunity and wanted to take my shot and help Matt get a first down,” Coyer said. “The last time I hit someone like that was on a similar play my senior year of high school. Hey, I’m a Temple football player, we’re supposed to be tough.”
Clinton Granger relieved Coyer with about eight minutes left in the game. Montel Harris, the transfer from Boston College, had a mere seven touches, picking up 15 yards rushing on six carries and catching one pass for eight. Harris, Addazio revealed after the game, suffered a hamstring strain and Addazio wanted to save him for Temple’s game against Maryland next week.
Temple senior kicker Brandon McManus, who had the attention of the numerous NFL scouts who filled the Lincoln Financial Field pressbox, booted field goals of 24 and 31 yards, becoming Temple’s all-time leader in field goals with 48, surpassing the previous all-time leader, Billy Wright, who kicked 46 field goals for Temple from 1985-88.
Robertson was a bright spot on what was otherwise a very dismal night for the Wildcats. He rushed for a team-high 71 yards on 15 carries, and he threw for 133 yards on 9 for 17 passing.
Defensively, middle linebacker Nate Smith led Temple with seven tackles, and junior linebacker Olaniyi Adewole was very impressive in his college start, making four tackles including a sack.
Temple’s linebacking crew was stung by graduation, so the play of Smith and Adewole was encouraging.
“We had to start off on the right foot and people had to step up; I couldn’t wait to get out there,” Adewole said. “This was my first official start, and the first time I played a whole game in three years, since my senior year at Upper Darby. I waited two years for this opportunity.”
A year ago, Villanova campaigned hard to gain entrance into the Big East Conference for football. It seems the Wildcats, who play in the Football Conference Subdivision (FCS), formerly Division I-AA, may be content to stay just where they are.
Temple’s Big East season begins October 6 against South Florida at Lincoln Financial Field.
Whether or not the series continues seems up to Villanova. Temple is very much in favor of continuing this marriage, however lopsided its grown over the last few years.
“We originally wanted a larger series, we wanted 10 years and Villanova wanted four,” Temple Athletic Director Bill Bradshaw said. “I don’t know, Villanova may have other opportunities, but we at Temple think the series is terrific for both schools, and for college football. We got over 32,000 fans to see a college football game on a Friday night. I think that’s great for everyone. We would like to continue playing the series.”