(Saturday, December 17th)
Final Score: Temple 37, Wyoming 15
Albuquerque, NM (Sports Network) - Bernard Pierce ran for 100 yards and two scores as the Temple Owls earned their first bowl win in 32 years with a 37-15 rout over the Wyoming Cowboys in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Owls last won a bowl game in 1979 when they defeated Cal, 28-17, in the Garden State Bowl.
"Our season, we had a great year and that's terrific. But this allowed us to put that exclamation point on it," Temple head coach Steve Addazio said. "I think the way we played this game really was important. It was important for our conference, the MAC Conference. It was important for our team, important for our seniors and our fan base."
Chris Coyer ran for 71 yards and Matt Brown added 49 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Owls (9-4), who ran over 200 yards for the eighth straight game. They finished the contest with 255 yards on the ground.
Coyer also threw for 169 yards and a score, Rod Streater hauled in a 61-yard touchdown and Evan Rodriguez caught two balls for 52 yards.
Brett Smith threw for 127 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, and ran for 65 yards for the Cowboys (8-5), who defeated Fresno State 35-28 in double overtime in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl.
"They just 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," Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen said.
Temple, which was snubbed out of a bowl bid last season after going 8-4, took control early and scored touchdowns on each of its first three possessions to take a 21-0 lead.
The Owls rolled the dice on their opening possession, going for a 4th-and-1 from their own 43-yard line. Pierce picked up the first down and Coyer found a streaking Rodriguez over the middle for a 40-yard gain down to Wyoming's 11-yard line on the very next play. Pierce plunged in from a yard out three plays later to conclude the 13-play, 90-yard opening march.
"The first drive set the tone," Addazio said. "Our whole offensive line and everyone that was involved with that, Chris (Coyer) and, you know, I thought that was a great opener for us. You could see that our team was ready. Mentally and physically ready to play this football game."
After Daniel Sullivan's 49-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, Joe Jones took a reverse 35 yards to Wyoming's 34-yard line on the first play of Temple's ensuing possession. Pierce's second one-yard TD run capped off the nine-play, 69-yard drive.
Kee-ayre Griffin intercepted Smith's pass on Wyoming's ensuing series and returned it 30 yards to the Cowboys' 35-yard line. The turnover led to Brown's one-yard TD run to make it 21-0 with 10:21 remaining in the second quarter.
The Cowboys finally got on the scoreboard with 37 seconds left in the first half. Smith picked up 16 yards on 4th-and-3, and then hooked up with Josh Doctson for a 21-yard score on another 4th-and-3 to make it a 21-7 game.
But Temple quickly responded as Coyer hit Streater for a 61-yard TD pass on the first play of its ensuing possession for a 28-7 halftime advantage.
After a Wyoming punt, the Owls took their opening second-half possession 60 yards in 12 plays, and Brandon McManus connected from 34 yards out to make it 31-7 with 1:22 remaining in the third quarter.
McManus booted his second field goal from 37 yards out early in the fourth quarter, and Kevin Kroboth intercepted Smith's pass on Wyoming's ensuing series as Temple took over at their own 27. The turnover led to McManus' third field goal of the game, this one from 34 yards out to make it a 37-7 game with 3:22 to play.
Kody Sutton hauled in a 14-yard score for Wyoming with three seconds left, and Smith converted the two-point conversion with a quarterback keeper.
The Owls' last bowl appearance came in the 2009 EagleBank Bowl where they fell to the UCLA Bruins, 30-21...Temple is 2-2 all-time in bowl games, while Wyoming is 6-7...The Owls are 20-2 when Pierce carries the ball at least 18 times. He carried the ball 25 times in the game...Wyoming was 5-for-5 on fourth down...Wyoming's Alvester Alexander was held to 17 yards on just seven carries...Coyer was named the game's Offensive MVP, while Temple senior linebacker Tahir Whitehead earned Defensive MVP honors with 11 tackles.
12/17 19:59:16 ET