End Of The Road

Senior tight end Chris Coyer was one of the last Owls out of the Lincoln Financial Field locker room Saturday night after Temple's final home game of the season. Part of the delay was mentally dissecting how the Owls blew a 21-0 halftime lead in a 28-21 loss to previously winless Connecticut. But most of it was he just didn't want to leave.

Senior tight end Chris Coyer was one of the last Owls out of the Lincoln Financial Field locker room Saturday night after Temple's final home game of the season.

Part of the delay was mentally dissecting how the Owls blew a 21-0 halftime lead in a 28-21 loss to previously winless Connecticut.

But most of it was he just didn't want to leave.

"I was sitting in there for a while," said Coyer. "It's tough to leave knowing this is the last time I'll walk in and walk out of here as a Temple Owl. It's almost hard to believe. It's almost a little bit of shock, but we have to keep moving forward."

Coyer has dealt with injuries in his final season and sat out last week's game against Central Florida with a balky ankle. He insisted after the Connecticut game he was going to play his final home game – and his last game overall next week against Memphis – no matter what.

He wound up playing more than anticipated when fellow senior tight end Chris Parthemore suffered a shoulder injury on the first series of the game.

"They did a good job getting me ready to play, thankfully the ankle was able to hold up and should be good next week too," said Coyer. "I tried to make that pretty clear (I was going to play). I tried to make it clear last week I was going to try to play, but there was no way I was going to miss this week."

Coyer has been at Temple five years. He came to Philadelphia from Virginia as a highly-regarded quarterback and moved into the starting role midway through his redshirt sophomore season.

The left-hander led the Owls to four straight wins down the stretch, including a victory over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl where he was named the game's MVP in Temple's first bowl victory in 32 years.

After the season, Temple accepted membership in the Big East Conference – now the American Athletic Conference. While it has been a struggle since the transition – the Owls are 5-17 overall and just 1-10 this year – the goal of moving to a major conference was secured and is probably the biggest victory Coyer and his fellow upperclassmen achieved in their careers.

After struggling for much of his junior campaign and yielding the starting spot to Juice Granger for the last two games of the season, Coyer moved to tight end this year as Granger and junior Connor Reilly battled for the starting quarterback job. Reilly eventually won the job, though yielded to Walker, a true freshman, midway through the season.

Coyer has 17 catches for 148 yards and a touchdown in his new role. He laughed when it was mentioned the player now responsible for throwing him the ball was in middle school when he arrived at Temple.

"P.J. plays his heart out, man," said Coyer. "He's a fighter and he's coming along. He's not there yet, he's still young. He has a lot of time left, but he makes strides every week."

Most of the Owls on this young team have a long time to play. Coyer and his fellow seniors have just one final game.

Asked to look back on a career that included a bowl victory and helping move Temple from the Mid-American Conference to a bigger stage, Coyer wasn't ready to do so.

"It's not time for me to reflect yet," said Coyer. "We still have a game yet. Ask me next week I might have something different to say."

But commenting on the legacy of his class – which includes sixth-year senior offensive lineman Sean Boyle, whose shoulders finally gave out after five surgeries, three-year starting defensive tackle Levi Brown and two-year starting cornerback Zamel Johnson among many other contributers – Coyer hoped they set the stage for better results in the future.

The Owls were able to win a bowl championship during his tenure and he'd like nothing more than for the players following in his footsteps to do the same.

"I want to leave behind a group of guys who have learned how to win and are set to go win a championship," said Coyer. "Go get a win against Memphis, and it's going to be a tough offseason regardless, but send them in on a good note. With all the seniors we had at the beginning of season it's still a young team.

"I think that would be a good legacy to leave, to leave behind those guys who are ready to win a championship."

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