Temple Comes Up Just Short Against Notre Dame

Philly's Will Fuller broke the hearts of Temple fans with a late touchdown catch for Notre Dame, thwarting the Owls' upset bid.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver William Fuller (7) catches a pass for a touchdown over Temple Owls safety Will Hayes (32) in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Notre Dame won 24-20.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver William Fuller (7) catches a pass for a touchdown over Temple Owls safety Will Hayes (32) in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Notre Dame won 24-20.

A Philadelphia native spoiled Temple’s chance for the biggest win in school history.

Will Fuller, a Roman Catholic graduate, caught a 17-yard touchdown with two minutes to play to give Notre Dame the lead for good against Temple. P.J. Walker threw an interception on the next series, and the 9th-ranked Fighting Irish held on for the 24-20 win over the No. 21 Owls.

It was perhaps the biggest game in Temple football history, even though the Owls lost. There was a week of build-up, plus a rare Philadelphia appearance for ESPN College GameDay. (We did a roundup of the best and worst signs from this morning.)

A Temple-record crowd of 69,280 jammed Lincoln Financial Field. (The crowd was split perhaps 60-40 for Temple.) It looked like the Owls might actually win this one, too, when they scored twice in the fourth quarter to grab a three-point lead with under five minutes to play. Security even started bringing out barricades to prevent Temple fans from rushing the field.

But Notre Dame quashed the hopes of Temple fans with a 6-play, 75-yard drive that ended with the touchdown catch by Fuller. Temple falls to 7-1 on the season; the Fighting Irish are also 7-1.

A 36-yard field goal by Austin Jones with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter gave Temple that 20-17 lead. Temple drove 42 yards in 8 plays for the go-ahead score. The Owls had tied it on a 14-play, 78-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions and a targeting penalty on Notre Dame’s Elijah Shumate on 3rd and goal. Shumate was ejected, and Jahad Thomas juked his replacement (Nicky Baratti) four plays later to get into the end zone.

Notre Dame took the opening kickoff and drove 74 yards for the game’s opening touchdown. The drive was helped along by an iffy pass interference call on Tavon Young on 3rd down; if the penalty hadn’t been called, Temple would’ve most likely gotten the ball back on a punt. Kizer, Notre Dame’s quarterback, scored on a 3-yard run on that drive.

Temple grabbed a 10-7 lead in the first half after a 94-yard drive that followed an interception deep in Temple territory by Praise Martin-Oguike. Walker hit Brandon Shippen for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Owls the lead. That was short lived, as Kizer made a nice read and ran for a 79-yard touchdown on the ensuing Irish possession.

Notre Dame drove deep into Temple territory four times in the first half, but came away with just a 14-10 lead thanks to the Owls’ defense. Just before halftime, linebacker Tyler Matakevich intercepted Kizer at the 5 yard line. It was Matakevich’s fifth pick this season.

In one of the more shocking developments this college football season — or perhaps in college football history — Notre Dame appeared rattled playing on the road against Temple. Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly even went after one of his own assistants, a strength coach.

Temple’s Jahad Thomas had 82 yards on 21 carries, almost half of it on a 39-yard run on the Owls’ 94-yard TD drive. Meanwhile, the Owls held Notre Dame running back C.J. Prosise to 25 yards on 12 carries. Unfortunately for them, ND quarterback Kizer had 143 yards and 2 touchdown runs.

P.J. Walker went 13-for-30 for 188 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 pick. He was under pressure from a solid Notre Dame pass rush almost all night.

On the plus side for Temple fans, at least ESPN announcer Kirk Herbstreit was scared by monsters from Eastern State Penitentiary.

Temple plays next Friday at Southern Methodist. They’re still undefeated in American Athletic Conference play; if the Owls win out they’re in the mix for a New Year’s Day bowl.