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PHILADELPHIA - After allowing a season-high 35 points in a loss at Ohio last week, the Temple defense stood tall in a 24-21 win over visiting Miami Wednesday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls' defense recorded seven sacks and forced three turnovers in helping Temple (6-4, 4-3 MAC) become Bowl-eligible for the third straight season. Miami falls to 4-6, 3-3.
Temple also set a record for the most wins (23) in three successive seasons, and has two more home games (Army & Kent State) to extend that mark.
Seniors Adrian Robinson and Morkeith Brown led the sack parade, each recording two in the contest. Seniors Stephen Johnson and Tahir Whitehead each made a sack as did junior Justin Gildea as Miami QB Zac Dysert (28-37, 364 yds, 3 TDs) was pressured all night.
Robinson also made his first interception of the season while sophomore Zamel Johnson had his first pick of his career. Senior Kevin Kroboth recovered a fumble which was forced by junior Ahkeem Smith. Temple scored on all three turnovers caused, resulting in 17 total points.
"All of the sudden we looked like Temple's defense again," said Temple head coach Steve Addazio.
Making his first collegiate start, sophomore Chris Coyer rushed for one TD and passed for another. The southpaw connected on 10-of-19 passes for 92 yards, including a 10-yard first quarter touchdown to sophomore Deon Miller. He also rushed for 97 yards on 16 carries with one being for a nine-yard touchdown.
Junior RB Matt Brown, who got the start in place of an injured Bernard Pierce, rushed for a game-high 123 yards on 24 carries. It was his fourth 100th 100-yard game of the season and eighth of his career. Brown, who received high-praise from Addazio for the way he grinded out yards at the end of the game, also scored a two-yard TD in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the game.
The Owls' offense/defense combination helped offset a record day by RedHawk receiver Nick Harwell, who set Miami marks in receptions (15) and yards receiving (229). He also had two touchdowns.
Temple's defense set the tone on Miami's first drive when Smith forced a fumble by Chris Givens that was recovered by Kroboth on the Temple 40.
Coyer and Brown moved the Owls into field goal position with Brandon McManus connecting on a 32-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
Dysert then directed the RedHawks on an impressive, 12-play, 90-yard drive with his 29-yard TD pass to Harwell putting Miami ahead, 7-3.
Coyer answered right back, engineering a 10-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a pass to Miller in the left corner of the end zone. The new starting QB rushed for 44 yards on the drive, breaking two big runs of 19 and 14 yards.
The Owls would score once more before halftime, and again it was set up by a RedHawk miscue. Robinson made a huge interception on the first play following a 52-yard McManus punt, and returned it to the Miami 9. Coyer rushed up the middle on the ensuing play to make it 17-7.
On its second drive of the third quarter Miami cut the deficit to three, 17-14, as Dysert hit Givens for a 25-yard touchdown. Dysert was driving the RedHawks on their next possession when Zamel Johnson made the play of the day, picking off the Miami QB at the Temple 17 and returning it 53 yards to the Miami 30.
It took Temple just five plays to get the ball in the end zone on a Brown two-yard run. The big play in the drive was a Coyer to Evan Rodriguez 22-yard pass play to the Miami five.
Miami was not done, however. Trailing 24-14 with 7:26 remaining, Dysert directed another long drive, this one a 12-play, 91-yarder with a 14-yard Harwell TD reception making it 24-21 with 3:55 on the clock.
The Owls, behind the rushing of Brown, were able to run out the clock on their final possession to bring home the victory.
Temple now has 10 days off before it hosts Army on November 19 at 1:00 p.m. The game will be on espn3.com and will be on 1210 AM WPHT.