Almost. But not quite
For much of Saturday afternoon, it looked like Temple was going to finally beat Penn State. Not only did the Owls have the advantage on the scoreboard, but the Nittany Lions kept shooting themselves in the paw with ill-timed penalties, turnovers, three missed field goals and a blocked punt.
Which made their 14-10 loss to PSU – that’s 29 straight losses head-to-head stretching back to 1941 -- that much more disheartening.
“We’re not interested in close games,” said Steve Addazio, after the Owls were done in by two fourth-period interceptions. “There’s no moral victories. There’s nothing. You play the game to win. We didn’t win. We turned the ball over three times and that’s the reason we didn’t win. You can’t put your defense in a situation like that.”
Following Joe Paterno’s lead with Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin, Addazio too played musical quarterbacks, yanking starter Mike Gerardi for option specialist Chester Stewart. That allowed Penn State to load up in the box against standout running back Bernard Pierce, who only had four second-half carries.
Once Gerardi returned in the fourth he simply wasn’t the same, throwing two straight picks, the latter leading to Penn State’s winning drive.
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“I felt we needed a changeup once they shut down our power running game,” said Addazio. “We needed to be able to throw the ball to win that game, but we got nothing done.”
Still, it took Penn State converting twice on fourth down, before Michael Zordich crashed into the end zone from a yard out with the game winner. That came two plays after Zordich saved the day for the Lions by pouncing on the ball after Bolden fumbled the snap.
“We hung in there,” said Paterno, who watched the game from the press box. “I tried to tell my kids that’s as good a Temple team as I’ve seen -- and I’ve seen a lot. They gave us a lot of problems.”
But the bottom line remained the same, leaving Temple with one unanswered question after snatching defeat from the jaws of apparent victory
If not now, when?