PHILADELPHIA--All day, Penn State fought to get momentum, and just about all day, Temple stemmed the tide.
On the Nittany Lions final drive, however, they rose to the occasion on offense and finished their most important drive of the young season with a one-yard touchdown by Michael Zordich. The score lifted them to a 14-10 win against the Owls and averted what could have been a devastating loss at Lincoln Financial Field.
The final drive began with 8:46 remaining on the Temple 44-yardline and the Lions trailing 14-10. Rob Bolden was Penn State's man under center after he'd split time with Matthew McGloin all afternoon.
The Lions chipped away at Temple's defense and advanced to the Owls' 27-yardline. On 3rd-and-6, they came up short and were faced with a 4th-and-2 on the Temple 23.
Down three, it would have seemed like an obvious kicking situation in most games. Not Saturday, however, as Penn State kicker Evan Lewis had already missed two field goal and backup Sam Ficken had one blocked at the end of the first half.
Coach Joe Paterno decided to go for it, and put the game in Bolden's hands. The sophomore dropped back and found wide receiver Derek Moye for 11 yards and a clutch first down.
"Seeing the coverage I felt like Rob was going to come to me," Moye told reporters after the game. "He fired it in there. I kind of didn't really have a choice but to catch it with how fast it came."
The conversion kept Penn State's march going, but it wasn't long before the Lions would face a big decision once again.
After advancing to the 4-yardline, Penn State was faced with a 3rd-and-2 from but fumbled the snap, gaining barely a yard. Suddenly, it was 4th-and-1 on the Temple and Paterno was faced with a crucial decision again.
Paterno took a chance and went for it, and Brandon Beachum converted with a 2-yard run down to the one.
"I think the score, and the fact that we were doing as well as we were defensively that we could take a couple of chances."
The coach's faith paid off, and Zordich capped the drive with his touchdown on the next play.
When the dust settled, and offense that had failed to established momentum all afternoon had gone 44 yards on 12 plays in 6:03 to get a score they had to have on the road.
The overall performance might not get many too excited about this team as Big Ten play looms, but if the Lions go on to do anything this season, they might look back at the final drive in Philadelphia as the starting point.