Pierce, Temple run over Wyoming 37-15 in NM Bowl
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen knew Temple’s game plan in the
New Mexico Bowl would be to play smash-mouth football.
It was just something the Wyoming couldn’t do much about as the
Owls came away with a 37-15 victory Saturday.
”It was disappointing,” Christensen said. ”We knew they were
going to run the football, which they did. We missed some tackles.
. They just played physically played better than us. My hat’s off
to them. They’re a good running football team. They’re a good
football team. They were the better team today.”
Temple (9-4) ran up 424 yards of total offense, with 255 of that
coming on the ground. Bernard Pierce had 100 yards and two
touchdowns on 25 carries, while quarterback Chris Coyer had 240
total yards and one touchdown pass.
That physicality extended to the other side of the ball as well,
with Temple limiting the Cowboys (8-5) to 267 total yards as
freshman quarterback Brett Smith scuffled to find open receivers or
open running lanes.
”He had some struggles today, without a doubt,” Christensen
said about Smith. ”Certainly not from a lack of wanting to get it
done. Obviously, when he has struggles generally other people are
struggling with protection or getting open in a route.”
The Owls had three interceptions – tying a New Mexico Bowl
record – en route to the second bowl victory in school history. The
first interception came at the start of the second quarter when
Temple’s Kee-arye Griffin picked off Smith, which set up Matt
Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave the Owls a 21-0 lead.
The last one came late in the game to Temple’s Kevin Kroboth
resulting in a field goal.
”Our starting point is playing great defense,” first-year
Temple coach Steve Addazio said. ”That’s what our program’s built
around. We lead a lot of statistical categories in the country, and
we have a lot of pride in playing great defense.”
The New Mexico Bowl was Temple’s second bowl game in three
years, but that 2009 game – a 30-21 loss to UCLA in the EagleBank
Bowl in Washington – was the Owls’ first bowl in 30 years. The
Mid-American Conference East runner-up did not get a bowl invite
last year despite going 8-4.
Sophomore Coyer, who also rushed for 71 yards, was selected the
game’s offensive MVP.
That rushing attack, coupled with effective passing, was too
much for the Cowboys.
”Watching them on film, they’d lull a lot of teams to sleep
with their run and put it in the air,” linebacker Brian Hendricks
said. ”That’s why they’re so good, why they just turned 9-4. They
made those kinds of plays.”
Meanwhile, Smith was held to just 127 yards by a greedy Owls
defensive line that preventing the Cowboys from getting anything
The loss dropped the Cowboys to 6-7 in bowl games. It was a
disappointing effort by Wyoming after the Cowboys won the 2009 New
Mexico Bowl in double overtime, beating Fresno State 35-28.
”They definitely had a great defense,” said receiver Mazi
Ogbonna, who was held without a catch. ”Like we expected them to
be; extremely tough on that side of the ball. They just executed
more plays than we did.”
Wyoming’s defense has had a bend, don’t break attitude this
season and a knack for coming up with a key turnover when it was
needed. The Cowboys’ turnover margin of plus-1.25 was fourth best
in the country.
But Wyoming came up empty in the takeaway department, failing to
offset Smith’s three interceptions.
”We were trying, but they were holding onto the ball tight and
that quarterback made some great decisions,” Hendricks said.
”Going back to that quarterback, he was a great athlete today and
made the plays. Sometimes you can get the ball to pop out and today
we couldn’t do that.”
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