Temple Trampled - WVU Gets Bowl Qualifier

West Virginia rolled up 33 first half points in defeating the Temple Owls 46-20. With the win, the Mountaineers qualified for postseason play.

A crisp, sunny autumn morning greeted the Mountaineers as they entered Veteran's Stadium to do battle with the improved Temple Owls. The Mountaineers, adorned in their white jerseys and white pants, were attempting to become bowl eligible for the first time under Rich Rodriguez with a win in the ‘City of Brotherly Love'. The Mountaineers tried to accomplish this without the services of starting right guard, Ken Sandor, starting defensive end Kevin Freeman and wide receivers Travis Garvin and J.T. Perry.

As the Owls kicked off to the Mountaineers to start the game, 65,000 fans disguised as blue, empty seats cheered the teams on. The Mountaineer attack started with Phil Braxton's kickoff return to the Mountaineer 18 yard line. The first offensive series looked like many of the Mountaineer drives have looked in the past three games, methodical and effective. Quarterback Rasheed Marshall led the Blue and Gold offensive down the field, aided by a 19 yard reception by Miquelle Henderson, and a 21 yard run by Marshall. The drive was capped by a 2 yard touchdown run by Avon Cobourne, his 11th of the season.

On Temple's first offensive play from scrimmage, safety Jermaine Thaxton read the play perfectly, stripped the ball carrier and recovered the fumble at the Temple 15-yard line. Five plays later, the Mountaineer offensive capitalized on the Temple mistake with Cobourne 1-yard lunge into the endzone. Two possession later, Temple's quarterback Mike McGann tossed a perfect pass to WVU's Jahmile Addae to give the Mountaineers its fourth possession of the firstquarter. The possession ended 6 plays and 2 minutes 13 seconds later with a Quincy Wilson run to paydirt. The first quarter ended with the Mountaineers out gaining the Owls 125 yards to two and outscoring the Owls 21-0.

"Getting off to that good start was important," offensive tackle Ben Timmons said. "that really set the tone for the whole game.

The second quarter began much like the first quarter ended. After the fired up Mountaineer defense thwarted the Owl offense the Mountaineers began yet another scoring drive, this time an impressive 41 yard field goal by Todd James. On the ensuing offensive possession by Temple, Owl coach Bobby Wallace inserted senior quarter Mike Frost, after starter McGann had gone 0-5 with one pick. Frost fared no better as he was intercepted by Grant Wiley on his second pass attempt, which was returned to the Owl 3-yard line.

Unfortunately the Mountaineer offense was unable to punch the ball into the endzone on four attempts and the Owl offense took over at their own 1-yard line. With Temple deep in its own territory and with a 24 point lead, Grant Wiley and company were able to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback with reckless abandon. This resulted in a WVU safety as James Davis separated the ball from Mike Frost. The ball rolled harmlessly into the endzone, a Temple offensive lineman recovered the ball, but was downed in the end zone for 2 points for the West Virginia defense.

After Temple's free kick, the Mountaineers started their 5th scoring drive. The drive began with a 21 yard gain by Cobourne only to be negated by a holding call which made it first and twenty. The holding call was soon forgotten, as five plays later, Rasheed Marshall scampered 28 yards for a touchdown making the score 33-0.

The second quarter ended as with the WVU defense holding the Owls to 16 yards on 24 plays and 2 first downs. Much-heralded running back Tanardo Sharps gained only 17 yards on 9 carries. The only positive that the Owls could take from the first half was a missed 46-yard field goal attempt by Todd James.

After the two teams traded possessions in the second half, the Mountaineer defense struck again. Lance Frazier racked up an easy interception and returned the ball the Temple 12 yard line. It didn't take long for WVU to capitalize on yet another Owl turnover as Marshall darted 12 yards into the endzone for his second rushing touchdown of the day. With the score 40-0 at the 11:11 mark of the 3rd quarter, you could stick a fork in these Owls, because they were done.

The next eight minutes of the game was marred by sloppy play from both teams until Temple's passing attack started to take shape. With McGann connecting on strikes of 25 and 41 yards, the Owls moved down to the WVU 10 yard line. After three incompletions, the WVU defense was flagged for a late hit giving Temple new life. With 3:25 remaining in the third quarter McGann connected to Krishan Lewis on a fade pattern in the corner of the endzone to give Temple its first score of the game. The Owl fans rejoiced but it was a case of too little, too late..

After the Temple's scoring drive the WVU offense went back to work but looked to have lost their concentration and failed to move the ball. Temple received the ball at midfield after a 39 yard punt from Mark Fazzolari and tried to strike quickly. Unfortunately for Temple, WVU came up with their 4th interception as Adam ‘Pac Man' Jones gobbled up the pass to end the Owl's threat.

After a WVU's second personal foul, the Mountaineers started the drive at their own 10 yard line only to see the Temple defense and a holding call stop the West Virginia offense. As the third quarter ended the Mountaineers held a 40-7 advantage.

Following Fazzolari's sixth punt of the game, the Temple Owls started with good field possession at the WVU 38 yard line. The Owls struck quickly on a 24 yard completion to Sean Szarka from McGann to draw the Owls seven points closer.

WVU closed out the scoring on a 10 play, 41 yard drive that was finished on a fourth down Quincy Wilson sweep of thirteen yeards.

West Virignia faces Boston College next week in a game that will be at either 12:00 or 3:30 p.m. That announcement will be made by Sunday.

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