P.J. Walker

Associated Press

Kizer dazzles as No. 9 Notre Dame outlasts No. 21 Temple

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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.

Notre Dame leads Temple after tight first half

Associated Press
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The charged-up Owls held a brief lead but Notre Dame controlled most of the first half, and the ninth-ranked Irish lead No. 21 Temple 14-10 at the half.

Notre Dame accepted the ball to open the game and promptly moved 74 yards in 12 plays and six minutes, capped by a four-yard DeShone Kizer run, to grab a 7-0 lead. Temple got on the board with a 41-yard Austin Jones field goal with 2:25 left in the first quarter.

Temple then charged ahead with a 94-yard drive, punctuated by a 12-yard scoring strike from P.J. Walker to Brandon Shippen. Notre Dame immediately reclaimed the lead after Kizer raced 79 yards to the house.

Kizer posted excellent numbers – 12-of-21 passing for 134 yards plus seven carries for 110 yards – but he tossed two red zone interceptions, the second of which was snagged by the excellent linebacker Tyler Matakevich just before the half.

Notre Dame out-gained Temple 253-132, but the owls will receive to open the second half.

Temple moves to 7-0 for first time in program history

Associated Press
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No. 22 Temple remained unbeaten on the season Thursday night, and made a little program history in the process.  That doesn’t mean, though, there weren’t some anxious moments along the way to the record books.

In fact, Temple either trailed or held a scant three-point lead for the first 56 minutes of its game at East Carolina.  The last four minutes, however, the Owls put the AAC matchup and the Pirates away in a 24-14 win.

The win was Temple’s seventh in a row to start the season, the first time in program history the Owls have accomplished that feat.  That history, suffice to say, was a direct result of late-game heroics.

Trailing 14-10 with just under six minutes left in the fourth, P.J. Walker led the Owls on a seven-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a Walker 23-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson to take their first lead, at 17-14, since nine minutes were left in the second quarter.  Forcing the Pirates into a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, the Owls blocked the punt to set up shop at ECU’s 15-yard line with 2:28 left.

Two plays and :10 later, Jahad Thomas put the game out of reach with a 14-yard touchdown run to push the count to a two-score advantage at 24-14.

Anderson was the offensive star of the game as the wide receiver accounted for 126 yards and a touchdown on his eight receptions.  The catches and yardage numbers were season-highs for the senior.  ECU’s Blake Kemp passed for a game-high 272 yards in the loss.

With the win, Temple remains one of four Group of Five unbeatens, joining No. 18 Memphis, No. 19 Toledo and No. 21 Houston.

The road to remain unbeaten and also challenge for a New Year’s Six spot gets dicey immediately as Temple will play host to No. 11 Notre Dame next Saturday.  It’ll get dicey along down the road as well as, three weeks later, they will play host to 18th-ranked Memphis.