LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD—Bernard Pierce's assault on the Temple record book continues.
Crossing the goal line for the 44th touchdown of his college career, the junior running back is now the all-time leader in TDs scored by a Temple Owl, passing Paul Palmer's previous record of 43. This is the second week in a row Pierce has broken a Palmer record; he set a new program-high for career rushing touchdowns scored by an Owl last week at Ball State.
Of course, its one thing for Bernard to break someone else's record, but he's beginning to break some of his own.
Pierce's second touchdown of the day, the one that set the aforementioned career TD record, also marked his 17th touchdown of the season. That score sets a new Temple record for the most touchdowns by an Owl in a single season. The previous record of 16 was set in 2009 by, you guessed it, then-freshman running back Bernard Pierce.
Handing the ball off to Pierce, Chester Stewart was as good as he needed to be under center. In slightly less than three quarters of work, Stewart went just 7-11 passing, but it was all Temple needed, as both Pierce and second-string runner Matt Brown both rushed for over 100-yards for the second week in a row. The offense accumulated 400 total rushing yards by the end of the game.
On defense, the Owls posted their second shut out in two weeks and their second-consecutive shut out of the Buffalo Bulls. Aided by the offense's ability to force three-and-outs and dominate the time of possession, the Temple D surrendered just 155-yards on Saturday, and did not allow Buffalo a first down until the second quarter of play.
Indeed, the Owls were solid in all three phases of the game, with punter/kicker Brandon McManus turning in another fine performance. Despite some of the strong winds whipping through Lincoln Financial Field Saturday afternoon, McManus was able to put both of his field goal attempts through the uprights and convert on all four of his extra point opportunities.
Transitioning from kicker to punter, McManus drilled a 71-yard punt down wind that was eventually downed at the Buffalo 4. After having that kicked called back on a illegal formation penalty, he once more stepped up to boot his next punt in excess of sixty yards. He nearly put a third quarter kickoff into the seats behind the north end zone.
Having some special teams success of his own, running-back-turned-linebacker Ahkeem Smith found himself on the receiving end of a fake punt, direct snap. Smith went 49 yards into the end zone, putting Temple up 24-0, and effectively ending the game in the second quarter.
Add to that a Kee-Ayre Griffin blocked field goal and the Owls' special teams may have managed to out-perform an offense that ended the game with a total 458 yards from scrimmage.
Still, like always, the team will need to move on and begin to focus on its next game at Bowling Green. As head coach Steve Addazio said after the game, "That's great that we had two great weeks; but this world, this whole society, always want to take its foot off the gas. But if we do, we won't have a good week and we'll put ourselves in harm's way [like after the Maryland game]."
If this Temple team can bear down and keep its focus and over the course of its remaining schedule, it'll be their opponents in the MAC Championship game who will find themselves in "harm's way."