The local college football season kicked off on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field as the Temple Owls, under new head coach Steve Addazio (the former Florida offensive coordinator) took on the Villanova Wildcats, coached by Andy Talley, in the 3rd annual Mayor’s Cup game. The Owls, coming off back- to-back winning seasons for the first time in 30 years, were the odds on favorite coming into the game with the Wildcats, who are in the midst of rebuilding after three of the most successful seasons in Villanova football history.
Owls are known for being nocturnal and they were certainly active on this night, preying on the Wildcats’ offense, defense, and special teams.
Sparked by junior running back Bernard Pierce, who rushed for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns, and junior quarterback Mike Gerardi, who completed 14 of 20 aerials for 235 yards and two touchdowns (a 35 yarder to wideout Deon Miller, and a 47 yard bomb to Rod Streater), the Owls topped the Wildcats by a score of 42-7. Temple dominated from start to finish to win the 3rd annual Mayor’s Cup.
Temple led the inexperienced Wildcats 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, 21-0 at the half, and 42-0 midway through the fourth quarter (when backup quarterback Chris Coyer dashed 68 yards for a final Owl touchdown).
Before the game, Villanova University coach Andy Talley announced that senior wide receiver Norman White would miss the entire 2011 season resulting from a lisfranc injury of the left foot. White will red-shirt this year and return for a fifth year in 2012. In White’s absence, Mikey Reynolds led the Wildcats with five catches for 51 yards.
After a ceremonial coin-toss from Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, Villanova received the opening kickoff and drove from its own 26 to the Temple 27 before their offense stalled. The drive ended when Dustin Thomas’ pass was picked off by the Owls Justin Gildea in the end zone and returned to the Temple 25 yard line.
Temple, led by QB Mike Gerardi, drove 75 yards in seven plays to score its 1sttouchdown of the season. The score came on a 35 yard pass from Gerardi to Deon Miller. Miller caught 3 passes for 60 yards on the drive. Kicker Brandon McManus converted the extra point to make it 7-0 Temple.
In the 2nd quarter, the Owls boosted the lead to 14-0 on a 19 yard burst by Bernard Pierce which culminated a five play, 62 yard drive (which began when Temple recovered a fumble by Dustin Thomas that was caused by Anthony Robey and recovered by Tahir Whitehead).
With 46 seconds left before halftime, Pierce scooted 22 yards into the end zone to give Temple a dominating 21-0 advantage at the break. Pierce gained 116 yards rushing in the opening half.
The biggest highlight for Villanova in the 1st half was a 44 yard pass completion from Dorian Wells to Dustin Thomas which put the Cats in scoring range.
Temple scored on its first possession of the 2nd half driving 72 yards in seven plays. The drive was capped on a 47 yard toss from Gerardi to wide receiver Rod Streater to give the Owls a 28-0 lead.
Temple scored again in the third period on a 20 yard dash by Pierce (following an interception by Temple safety Kevin Kroboth). The interception was Kroboth’s second of the game.
After Villanova drove to the Temple 17 yard line, Temple’s defense stiffened and held the Wildcats at bay. Chris Coyer, who replaced Mike Girardi at QB, then scampered 68 yards for a touchdown to give the Owls a 42-0 lead.
The Cats finally got on the board with 7:57 left in the game when Dustin Thomas ran up the middle for a 4 yard score. The score, Thomas’ first at Villanova, finished off an eleven play 71 yard drive. Nick Yako converted the extra point to make the score 42-7.
Next up for the Owls is a MAC conference game at Akron on September 10. The Owls then return home to play the Penn State Nittany Lions on September 17th at the Linc.
Villanova next plays a Colonial Athletic Association conference game at Towson on Saturday, September 10. The Wildcats play their first home game when they host Monmouth on September 17th.