Temple Starts Strong, Claims Second Straight Mayor's Cup Victory

Temple Starts Strong, Claims Second Straight Mayor's Cup Victory

After two years of last-second, nail biting, hysterics at the Mayor's Cup, the 2011 Temple Owls opted to make the game far less stressful for everyone involved, rolling the Villanova Wildcats by a final score of 42-7.

Struggling to fill the voids left by a plethora of 2010 graduates, the young Wildcats failed to give the Owls the same challenge as their 2009-2010 predecessors.

Though many of the Villanova underclassmen displayed talent, nearly every opportunity for optimism was immediately squashed by an untimely penalty or turnover. It was a long night that grew only longer for coach Andy Talley and company, as the Wildcats continually forfeited the ball to a Temple offense they couldn't stop.

Named immediately prior to kick off as the Temple starter, quarterback Mike Gerardi looked sharp early, going 3 for 3 for 55-yards on the Owls opening drive. He would connect with Deon Miller on 35-yard crossing pattern to put Temple ahead by a score of 7-0 mid-way through the first quarter.

And while the it's true that Gerardi and the quarterbacks were the main story leading into Thursday night's contest, it was ultimately running back Bernard Pierce who would, in his typical fashion, become the absolute center of attention.

Following Gerardi's strike to Miller, Pierce dominated the remainder of the half, rushing for 116-yards and 2 TDs in the opening thirty. His first score came on a 19-yard run through the line during which he went nearly untouched into the end zone. He ran similarly unobstructed on his second TD, a 22-yard stretch to the right that would put the Owls ahead 21-0 at the  middle mark.

Then finding just enough room down the sideline to score his third touchdown of the contest, Pierce would earn an early end to his night. In just three quarters of work, Bernard would finish with 147-yards on 20 attempts, a performance good enough to move the junior into fourth all-time amongst Temple's career rushing leaders, just ahead of Henry Hynoski's 1972-1974 total of 2,089 yards.

As for the rest of the offense—specifically the man under center—junior Mike Gerardi looked plenty impressive for a guy who had previously been caught in a three-way quarterback competition.

In spite of the two drops for which he was clearly not at fault, Gerardi completed 14-20 attempts for 235-yards passing and 2 TDs. The second touchdown, a 47-yard lob to a streaking Rod Streater, was an especially noticeable show of both confidence and ability.

When asked what ultimately separated the Gerardi from sophomore Chris Coyer in the days leading up to the game, head coach Steve Addazio spoke of the quarterback's "growing leadership in the huddle," a leadership certainly aided by his experience as a starter at the end of 2010.

And it was exactly that brand of the leadership Villanova so sorely missed against the Owls.

Over on the opposite sideline, leading the huddle for the Wildcats, QB Dustin Thomas took some tough lumps Thursday night. Facing Temple's talented pass rush behind an inexperienced offensive line, Thomas spent a good deal of the evening on the run, resulting in three thrown picks and forced fumble.

Still, the redshirt freshman would continue to battle throughout the game, finally finding the end zone on a short-yardage scramble with eight minutes left to play. It would prove Villanova's first and only touchdown of the evening.

One quick injury note for the Wildcats, wide out Norman White will be forced to sit out the entirety 2011 season due to a lisfranc injury of his left foot. White will receive a medical redshirt and is expected to return in 2012 to complete his eligibility as a fifth-year senior. 

Finally, before wrapping up, it would be regrettable not to discuss the attendance figures. The announced crowd of 32,638 just edges last year's total of 32,193 as the second largest crowd to ever attend a Temple football game at Lincoln Financial Field. In just another two weeks, we can guarantee Thursday night's crowd will drop to third in the record books.

Either way, the game's atmosphere should be considered a success for the state of college football in Philadelphia. As coach current head coach and former SEC coordinator Steve Addazio said to begin his post-game press conference, "Major college football culture is here in Philadelphia…[Tonight] was a great for Philadelphia and a great night for Temple."

But, hey, even we could have told you that.

Up next for the two programs, Temple will be back in action next Saturday when they travel to Ohio to take on the Akron Zips; Villanova will also be on the road, heading south to battle Towson. The games are scheduled for 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively, with the Temple-Akron match up available for viewing on ESPN 3.

In the meantime, keep on the look out for some additional Penn State coverage in the coming days. The Nittany Lions open their season versus Indiana State this Saturday at 12 p.m. As of this writing, PSU has not yet named a starting quarterback. We'll keep you posted.

College football is back. Start chanting.

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

Another struggling pitcher gets well against the Phillies' feeble hitters

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MIAMI -- For struggling pitchers, facing the Phillies has become like a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
 
Another rival pitcher searching for a cure got it Monday night when the Phillies suffered their 23rd loss in the last 29 games. This time it was Miami Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez. He pitched six shutout innings and allowed just three hits in leading his club to a 4-1 win over the Phillies, who fell to 6-20 in May (see Instant Replay).

Volquez had gone 16 starts between wins.
 
"Every loss stings, I don’t care who's pitching," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We're just in a rut. We've got to battle our way out of it. We have to show up tomorrow and get after it. We've got to get more than three or four hits in the game."
 
The Phillies had just four hits in the game. It was the fifth time in the last nine games that they've had four or fewer hits. Only one of the hits was for extra bases and one of the singles was an infield hit.
 
"Once again, we need more offense," Mackanin said.
 
Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson completed a difficult month of May by allowing six hits, including a two-run homer, and four runs over six innings.
 
Hellickson surrendered a two-run homer to Derek Dietrich with two outs in the sixth and that was basically the ball game. Dietrich hit a high changeup. Back in April, that pitch would have been at the knees. But Hellickson has misplaced the pitch command that he needs to succeed.
 
Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts in April. In May, however, he went 1-3 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts. He was tagged for 35 hits, including nine homers, in 30 2/3 innings.
 
"Command in general," said Hellickson, describing his problem this month. "The biggest thing is not getting strike one, falling behind too much. I'm not getting the quick easy outs I was getting early in the season. I'm trying to get ahead, just missing."
 
Volquez signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Marlins over the winter, but it wasn't until this game that he delivered his first win. He entered the game 0-7 with a 4.82 ERA in nine starts.
 
The win was Volquez's first since Aug. 25, 2016, when he was a member of the Kansas City Royals.

Volquez isn't the first struggling pitcher to shine against the Phils recently. Eight days earlier, Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl took a 6.69 ERA into a start against the Phils and pitched five shutout innings. In the series against Colorado, the Phillies were dominated by a pair of rookies. In the only game they won (in a late rally), they were held to one run over six innings by Tyler Anderson, who had entered that game with an ERA of 6.00. On Friday night, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Tim Adleman pitched eight shutout innings against the Phils and gave up just one hit in the best start of his life. He had come into that game with an ERA of 6.19.
 
So Volquez had to be heartened when he saw the Phillies on the schedule.
 
They are the get-well team for pitchers in need of a pick-me-up.
 
It's actually kind of sad.
 
With Odubel Herrera locked in the throes of the worst slump of his life and on the bench and Maikel Franco mired in a 2 for 21 slump and hitting .209, Mackanin is trying to push things a little. He gave Aaron Altherr the green light to steal with one out and runners on the corners in a one-run game in the sixth inning. Altherr was out at second on a close play and Tommy Joseph struck out to leave the runner at third.
 
The Marlins salted the game away in the bottom of the inning on Dietrich's homer.
 
"With our offense, I have to take chances," Mackanin said. "I can't sit around and wait for three hits in a row. We haven't been doing that."
 
The Phils have the worst record in the majors at 17-32.
 
They have lost eight of their last 10 and scored just 15 runs in the losses.
 
"It sucks," catcher Cameron Rupp said. "There's really no other way to put it. It's frustrating. But the only people that are going to help us are ourselves. Nobody's going to go out there and play for us, swing the bats, pitch, play defense. That's on us and we have to do a better job all around.
 
"We all want to be successful and get the job done. We just haven't been hitting the ball. There's no other way to put it. But the good thing about baseball is we play every day so we turn the page and come back tomorrow and try to get it done."

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

Stanley Cup Final: Penguins come alive late in third to steal Game 1 vs. Predators

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PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins rarely tested the hottest goaltender in the playoffs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against Nashville.

They beat Pekka Rinne anyway.

Rookie Jake Guentzel fired the puck past Rinne with 3:17 left in regulation to put the Penguins ahead to stay in a back-and-forth 5-3 victory on Monday night.

Guentzel snapped an eight-game goalless drought to help the defending champions escape after blowing a three-goal lead.

Nick Bonino scored twice for the Penguins. Conor Sheary scored his first of the playoffs and Evgeni Malkin scored his eighth. The Penguins won despite putting just 12 shots on goal. Matt Murray finished with 23 saves for the Penguins, who used the first coach's challenge in Final history to wipe out an early Nashville goal and held on despite going an astonishing 37 minutes at one point without a shot.

"I think at the end of the day we're up 1-0," Bonino said. "We had a good first, we had a terrible second and we were terrible in the third. I don't think it's Xs and Os. We've got to work harder, compete a little harder, but we got some timely goals."

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Ellis, Colton Sissons and Frederick Gaudreau scored for the Predators. Rinne stopped just seven shots.

The Penguins had all of three days to get ready for the final following a draining slog through the Eastern Conference that included a pair of Game 7 victories, the second a double-overtime thriller against Ottawa last Thursday.

Pittsburgh downplayed the notion it was fatigued, figuring adrenaline and a shot at making history would make up for any lack of jump while playing their 108th game in the last calendar year.

Maybe, but the Penguins looked a step behind at the outset. The Predators, who crashed the NHL's biggest stage for the first time behind Rinne and a group of talented defenseman, were hardly intimidated by the stakes, the crowd or the defending champions, trying to become the first repeat winner since Detroit in 1998.

All the guys from "Smashville" have to show for it is their first deficit of the playoffs on a night a fan threw a catfish onto the ice to try and give the Predators a taste of home.

The Penguins, who led the league in scoring, stressed before Game 1 that the best way to keep the Predators at bay was by taking the puck and spending copious amounts of time around Rinne. It didn't happen, mostly because Nashville's forecheck pinned the Penguins in their own end. Clearing attempts were knocked down or outright swiped, tilting the ice heavily in front of Murray.

Yet Pittsburgh managed to build a quick 3-0 lead anyway thanks to a fortunate bounce and some quick thinking by Penguins video coordinator Andy Saucier. Part of his job title is to alert coach Mike Sullivan when to challenge a call. The moment came 12:47 into the first when P.K. Subban sent a slap shot by Murray that appeared to give the Predators the lead.

Sullivan used his coach's challenge, arguing Nashville forward Filip Forsberg was offside. A lengthy review indicated Forsberg's right skate was in the air as he brought the puck into a zone, a no-no.

"The impact of that moment and then the chain of events that happened after that with the penalty kills I think changed the course of the game," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.

The decision gave the Penguins all the wiggle room they needed to take charge. Malkin scored on a 5-on-3 15:32 into the first, Sheary made it 2-0 just 65 seconds later and when Bonino's innocent centering pass smacked off Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm's left knee and by Rinne just 17 seconds before the end of the period, Pittsburgh was in full command.

It looked like a repeat of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa when the Penguins poured in four goals in the first period of a 7-0 rout.

Nashville, unlike the Senators, didn't bail. Instead, they rallied and took over the game.

Ellis scored the first goal by a Predator in a Stanley Cup Final 8:21 into the second and Nashville kept Rinne downright bored at the other end. Pittsburgh didn't manage a shot on net in the second period, the first time it's happened in a playoff game in franchise history -- and the first such period by any team in a Final game since the NHL began tracking shots on goal in 1958.

Nashville kept coming. Sissons beat Murray 10:06 into the third and Gaudreau tied it just after a fruitless Pittsburgh power play.

No matter. The Penguins have become chameleons under Sullivan. They can win with both firepower and precision.

Guentzel slipped one by Rinne with 3:17 to go in regulation and Bonino added an empty netter to give Pittsburgh early control of the series.

"We didn't do a great job of (shooting), but we made them count," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "But it was a good finish there to get that one from Jake."