Temple Survives Central Mich and A Quick Note on Concussions

Temple Survives Central Mich and A Quick Note on Concussions

In front of a considerably smaller crowd than present for last week's Mayor's Cup, the Temple University Football team slugged out an ugly victory over the Central Michigan Chippewas Thursday night in OT. Temple's chances would once again rest on the foot of Owl kicker Brandon McManus, who, after having missed two of his first three kicks wide right, was able to compose himself and split the uprights to end the 13-10 affair.

Temple was the beneficiary of some very lucky late breaks, including a Central Michigan fumble on the last play of regulation and an ill-advised force into the end zone on the opening drive of the extra session, the latter resulting in an Owl interception. From there, Coach Golden ordered up a steady diet of Matt Brown. Three consecutive rushes proved barely enough to gain the first down. Two more short yardage gains and third down to center McManus between the hash marks would close it out.

For those who have been knocking the Bernard Pierce for Heisman campaign, last night really only bolstered your argument. Pierce, who began to look like the Bernard of old after some explosive touches and bulldozing broken tackles in the first half, entered the fourth quarter with a touchdown on 10 rushes for 57 yards and 2 catches for 15 yards. Bernard would finish the game with a TD on 10 rushes for 57 yards and 2 catches for 15 yards. Just so we're clear, Bernard Pierce (yeah, this guy) did not touch the football in the fourth quarter or overtime.

I know the decision to bump him below Brown on the depth chart was due to his inability to practice after experiencing some concussion-like symptoms, but one has to wonder exactly what the problem is now. If he's still hurt or feeling any irregularities with his head, he shouldn't be playing. If he is completely healthy, why is the most talented guy on the team sitting on the bench during the fourth quarter and overtime in a meaningful in-conference match up? I can appreciate the argument that Golden is perhaps limiting his touches early in the season to try to keep him healthy late in the year, but that all goes out the window with the game on the line. I don't really get it myself, any guesses? Update: Owlsports.com is reporting that Bernard's disappearance was caused by a hand injury sustained during the third quarter. No word on the severity of the injury has been released. Hopefully, it isn't serious and his absence was largely precautionary.

(Quick digression: As long as I'm asking for feedback, are there any medical personnel who read the site and can explain to me, and anyone who may be curious, the difference between a concussion and "concussion-like symptoms." Sports fans can attest to the fact that any number of athletes are diagnosed each year with only "concussion-like symptoms," rather than an actual concussion after taking solid shots to the head. I clearly am not a doctor and have almost zero medical expertise outside of the application and removal of band-aids, but it just seems odd that an athlete would experience symptoms usually associated with a concussion without having actually been concussed. Anybody have any knowledge on the matter? Is there a doctor in the house?)

Back to the gridiron, Chester Stewart is...well, let me say this off the bat: I like Chester. I want him to succeed, and, having met him, he seems like a nice enough guy. All I'm saying is that if he keeps teasing Temple fans with some solid play under center only to twice fumble the ball at absolutely huge moments of the game, every member of the student section is going to wind up either prematurely gray, or start drinking more than they already do. Big C's first pass of the night came on a bomb; a 56 yard completion to wide out Rod Streater gave the impression that things were going to be clicking for the Temple offense. And though we proved ineffective once inside the red zone for the majority of the night, Chester's throws were noticeably more steady and on point than the week prior, an exciting sign of some quick growth in his release and timing. 

His actual decisions with the football, however, remain back-breaking. Pierce's touchdown right before half gave the Owls a 7-0 lead with little time left. An almost immediate CMU turnover put the Owls well within range for a Brandon McManus FG to end the half. Going into the break up 10-0 after a largely scoreless opening thirty would have really swung the momentum in Temple's favor. Instead, Chester would cough up the ball with just seconds left to send the Owls into the break up 7. Later, with only 35 ticks on the clock, Stewart attempted to break out of the pocket and scramble out of bounds. This might have been less disastrous if he wasn't holding the ball like a loaf of bread (read: L.J. Smith) in the open field. Failing to wrap up the football resulted in a hard hit and strip that might have cost Temple the game if not for a late Chippewa mental cramp of their own. I'm pulling for you, Chester. I am.

Defensively, DT Muhammad Wilkerson had a huge game and seemed to be in on almost every key tackle. The unit as a whole really deserves recognition on its performance. Bending but not breaking, the Owl D bears ultimate responsibility for the victory. At least we're 2-0, right?

Nick Menta is a TU Senior and the Sports Director of WHIP Temple University Student Run Radio.

Photo by Jazmyne Anderson

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).