Fearless Leader

Temple lost a football game on Saturday – an ugly, brutal football game. But it gained a quarterback and a leader. Connor Reilly, nursing a knee injury that was expected to sideline him, came off the bench in the third quarter with Temple down 13 points and the other two quarterbacks struggling. He rallied the Owls to fourth-quarter leads twice before a late touchdown gave Fordham a 30-29 victory.

Temple lost a football game on Saturday – an ugly, brutal football game.

But it gained a quarterback and a leader.

Connor Reilly, nursing a knee injury that was expected to sideline him, came off the bench in the third quarter with Temple down 13 points and the other two quarterbacks ineffective. He rallied the Owls to fourth-quarter leads twice before a late touchdown gave Fordham a 30-29 victory.

"I'm proud of Connor, he shouldn't have had to play, probably shouldn't have played, but he's a warrior," said coach Matt Rhule. "At that point I could tell the way things were going if we didn't do something, we weren't going to move the football. When we put Connor in there, something changed.

"If there's any question whether he's our leader or not. … He's our quarterback. He'll take this time to get healthy and come back, and I expect us to win a lot of games with him as our quarterback going forward. Hopefully, our team can see what we can be. Connor gave us a spark. The shame of losing that game is when a guy like that lays it on the line."

Reilly led the Owls to touchdowns on all three of his drives. He finished 7-of-8 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 20 yards and a score despite being instructed by Rhule not to run.

"I practiced Wednesday, came back Thursday and it hurt, so I told Coach I couldn't go," said Reilly. "I wanted to stay out and rest the knee a little bit, but he asked (in the third quarter) ‘Can you go?' and I said ‘Absolutely.' I wasn't going to sit out this game if I had the choice.

"I happened to come in and we moved the ball, and it brought a little bit of life and energy to the sideline."

Senior H-back Chris Coyer caught a go-ahead touchdown pass from Reilly with 4:34 left that stood to be the winning touchdown until Fordham stunned the Lincoln Financial Field crowd with its game-winning score with four seconds to play.

Coyer, who caught five passes for 50 yards, admitted the game changed as soon as Reilly took the field.

""It's tough to say, but there was definitely an energy boost when Connor got back in there," said Coyer. "We started executing a lot better. We're getting to a point of the game where it was make-or-break time and Connor gave us that boost."

There were a few positives to take out of the Fordham loss – very few – but one was the play of Reilly and what it means for the rest of this season and next with him under center.

"I guess it's the one positive or one of the few positives, but nobody should be happy about it," said Reilly. "We lost the game."

Asked if he planned to rest his knee during his bye week, Reilly said that wasn't his focus. With the Owls at 0-3, he doesn't feel he can take a practice off.

Reilly edged Juice Granger for the starting quarterback job and played well against Notre Dame before a sub-par performance against Houston. If there was any question before the Fordham game about whether this is Reilly's job and team, there isn't now.

"I'm going to go full-go," said Reilly. "I'm not going to sit out. I've got to push the offense to the brink."

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