In the City That Birthed Rocky Balboa, No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 21 Temple staged a back-and-forth slugfest that made Philadelphia proud. But it was the visiting Irish that punched last, ending he feisty Owls’ unbeaten run with a 24-20 win.
Freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer spent the night see-sawing between saving and ending Notre Dame’s chances. On one hand, he tossed two interceptions – both of them in the red zone – the first of which immediately sparked a 94-yard touchdown drive to give Temple a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. His second pick forced Notre Dame to settle for a 14-10 halftime lead instead of hitting the break with a possible seven or 10-point advantage.
But outside of those two throws, the redshirt freshman was fantastic. He opened the game guiding Notre Dame on a 12-play, 74-yard, six-minute touchdown drive, finishing the charge off with a four-yard touchdown spurt. Then, after his pick allowed Temple to take its first lead of the night, he immediately responded with a 79-yard touchdown run to put Notre Dame back on top.
Justin Yoon knocked in a 23-yard field goal to give Notre Dame a 17-10 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Temple grabbed the lead, this time on a one-yard Jahad Thomas run and a 36-yard Austin Jones field goal with 4:45 remaining.
And again Kizer answered.
This time he moved the Irish 75 yards in six snaps, hitting Philadelphia native Will Fuller for the game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass.
For the game, Kizer hit 23-of-35 throws for 299 yards with a touchdown and two picks while rushing 17 times for a game-high 143 yards and two scores.
Temple took the ball at its own 24 and 2:09 remaining needing a touchdown to win the game, but Notre Dame’s KeiVarae Russell intercepted a P.J. Walker heave at the Irish 35. Walker completed 13-of-30 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception to go with 38 yards on six carries, while Thomas rushed 21 times for 82 yards and a score.
The loss drops Temple to 7-1 on the year, but the Owls (3-0 AAC) remain in the driver’s seat to meet Memphis, Houston or Navy in the AAC championship game and a New Year’s Six berth regardless of tonight’s loss.
Notre Dame improves to 7-1 on the year and remains in the College Football Playoff hunt, needing wins at Pittsburgh next week, home against Wake Forest, then against Boston College at Fenway Park and, finally, at Stanford to reach the final four.