Loss And Found

The over two-and-a-half-year search to find Adam DiMichele's replacement as Temple's starting quarterback might have ended on Wednesday night, but it did so in a bitter 35-31 loss to Ohio that severely crippled the Owls' hopes of winning the MAC and diminished their chances of receiving a bowl bid. Chris Coyer put on a stellar display in relief, running for 176 yards and throwing for three TDs.

The over two-and-a-half-year search to find Adam DiMichele's replacement as Temple's starting quarterback might have ended on Wednesday night, but it did so in a bitter 35-31 loss to Ohio that severely crippled the Owls' chances of winning the Mid-American Conference and by extension diminished their chances of receiving a bowl bid.

It was the third straight year the Bobcats handed the Owls a devastating loss late in the season.

Chris Coyer replaced Chester Stewart on the third series and put on a stellar display, running 16 times for 176 yards and completing 8-of-14 passes for 123 yards and the first three touchdowns of the redshirt sophomore's career.

Coyer rolled out and hit tight end Evan Rodriguez for a 5-yard touchdown and threw a perfect 34-yard TD pass to Rod Streater as the Owls went into the half tied at 14. After underthrowng Streater a bit on a third-down pass to the 10 that the senior caught for 27 yards in the fourth quarter - it could have been a score with a better throw - Coyer made up for it with a third-down strike to Deon Miller for a 31-28 lead with 4:41 to play.

But the Owls couldn't hold the lead as Tyler Tettleton drove the Bobcats down the field, bought time and hit Donte Foster from five yards out on third down with 1:41 to play for the final score. Tettleton was 15-for-24 for 258 yards and three scores and Ohio put up 521 yards of offense.

Coyer's performance wasn't without error. He fumbled as the Owls appeared to be driving for the go-ahead score in the third quarter, and Ohio cashed in on an 81-yard Donte Harden (20 carries, 184 yards) touchdown run that put the Bobcats up, 21-14. On fourth-and-4 with just over a minute to go, Coyer missed a wide-open Joe Jones near midfield on a play that would have extended the drive and the game.

Bernard Pierce ran 24 times for 84 yards and his FBS-leading 19th touchdown, but was clearly hampered by a nagging hamstring injury and needed to be helped off the field on his final carry with apparent dizziness after a hard hit. His 20-yard TD run tied the game at 21 in the third quarter.

The Owls took their first lead at 24-21 on Brandon McManus' 27-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter. McManus set up his kick with a 23-yard run into Ohio territory on a fake punt.

But the Bobcats came right back, taking the lead at 28-24 on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Tettleton to Jordan Thompson, which was preceded by LaVon Brazill's juggling 28-yard catch on third down. The play was reviewed as the ball seemed to move on the ground as Brazill landed, but the officials declined to over-rule.

Brazill had seven catches for 165 yards, none more important than the one that he might have gotten away with. If the play had been ruled incomplete, Matt Weller – who had already missed two field goals – would have probably come out to attempt a potential game-tying 47-yarder.

The quarterback-go-round might finally stop now for the Owls. Vaughn Charlton started the first eight games in 2009, gave way to Stewart for four and then returned to start the EagleBank Bowl. Charlton was moved to tight end last spring and Stewart took over again.

But midway through last season – in an exact replica of Wednesday's relief effort – Mike Gerardi replaced Stewart on the third series against Bowling Green and never relinquished the job. While Gerardi played well last year, he had a poor final game in a loss which cost the Owls a bowl berth, and he was hurt when head coach Al Golden left for Miami (Fla.) and Steve Addazio replaced him, bringing a scheme that calls for a more mobile quarterback.

Gerardi started the first three games this season, but two interceptions against Penn State convinced Addazio to go to Stewart, who now appears headed to the bench for a third time.

Temple dropped to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the MAC with its second straight loss, while Ohio has a 6-3 overall record and 3-2 MAC mark. While the Owls aren't eliminated from division title hopes, they will need a lot of help.

Winning their last three games – all at home against Miami (Ohio), Army and Kent State – would give the Owls an 8-4 overall record and 5-3 MAC ledger, the same scenario which saw them snubbed for a bowl a year ago.

So the Owls will need to win out, most likely with Coyer running the show from here on out, and hope the numbers work in their favor this year.

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