A year ago at Wildcat Stadium, Temple sprinted to a four-touchdown first-quarter lead against Monterrey, Mexico-based Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon and cruised to a win.
The Tigres refused to be pushed around in the Wildcats’ home opener Friday night, leading by seven points after the first quarter, trailing by only four at halftime and not allowing any Temple rusher to reach 50 yards.
But UANL could not contain Temple’s Quentin Johnston, and the Texas-committed wide receiver used his 6-foot-4 frame and explosive leaping ability to take over the game.
Vance Willis bounced back from a difficult starting debut by throwing touchdown passes of 76, 45 and 28 yards to Johnston, and DaMarco Williams’ fumble recovery for a touchdown early in the third quarter sparked a dominant second-half performance as Temple pulled away to beat the Tigres 51-29 under Wildcat Stadium’s bright new lights.
“They’re a good football team. They’ve gotten a lot better than they were a year ago, and we’re not as good as we were a year ago,” Temple coach Scott Stewart said. “We’ve got to put 48 minutes together. It’s for keeps starting next week.”
Temple snapped a four-game losing streak that began after its 52-0 win at Waco last Oct. 26. The Wildcats (1-1) begin their eight-game District 12-6A schedule next Friday in Killeen against Harker Heights.
Willis, the senior first-year starter, threw five interceptions in Temple’s season-opening 35-29 loss at Round Rock Cedar Ridge, but he responded by completing 18 of 29 passes for 306 yards and four touchdowns — he hit Montavian Carlysle for a 17-yard score in the second quarter — and threw only one interception.
“The plays we were supposed to execute in the first half, we executed way better in the second half. Quentin’s a big blessing for me out there,” said Willis, who also rushed for 40 yards as senior Anthony Jackson returned from injury with 47 yards and a touchdown and sophomore Samari Howard was limited to 33 yards. “I studied film hard this week and worked hard on things I needed to work on.”
“I’m super-proud of Vance,” said Johnston, who compiled 220 yards on seven receptions and has 20 TD catches the last two seasons. “He came a long way and was more confident on his passes.”
Temple began and ended the first half in dramatic fashion. On the first play from scrimmage, Willis threw a deep pass to the left side that Johnston snared before breaking a defender’s tackle attempt and racing for a 76-yard touchdown.
Angel Fernandez’s 4-yard TD run and his 17-yard scoring pass to Miguel Rosales put the Tigres up 14-7 after the first quarter, but Willis connected with Carlysle and Johnston for second-quarter touchdowns of 17 and 45, yards, respectively. As first-half time expired, Adrian Guzman kicked a 49-yard field goal that bounced off the crossbar to give the Wildcats a 27-23 advantage.
Disaster struck for the Tigres (0-2) to begin the third quarter. From the UANL 15-yard line, freshman linebacker Taurean York dislodged the ball from running back Saul Diaz (127 yards rushing) and senior safety Williams recovered it for a touchdown and a 34-23 lead. Temple scored the next 17 points to pull away.
“I’m very proud of our guys. They showed a different character this year against Temple,” Tigres coach Juan Carlos Garcia said. “But we never play against guys like Quentin. That fumble at the start of the second half (changed the momentum).”
TEMPLE 51, UANL (MEXICO) 29
UANL 14 9 0 6 — 29
Temple 7 20 17 7 — 51
Tem — Quentin Johnston 76 pass from Vance Willis (Aaron Wagaman kick)
UANL — Angel Fernandez 4 run (Alan Garcia kick)
UANL — Miguel Rosales 17 pass from Fernandez (Garcia kick)
Tem — Montavian Carlysle 17 pass from Willis (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Wagaman 37 field goal
UANL — Garcia 35 field goal
Tem — Johnston 45 pass from Willis (Wagaman kick)
UANL — Jorge Gonzalez 14 run (kick blocked)
Tem — Adrian Guzman 49 field goal
Tem — DaMarco Williams fumble recovery in end zone (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Wagaman 40 field goal
Tem — Anthony Jackson 14 run (Wagaman kick)
Tem — Johnston 28 pass from Willis (Wagaman kick)
UANL — Aldo Herrera 44 pass from Rodolfo Aguilar (pass failed)
First downs 15 21
Rushes-yards 37-150 39-143
Passing yards 151 306
Comp.-Att.-Int. 7-15-0 18-29-1
Punts-average 5-33.4 3-32.3
Fumbles-lost 2-2 2-0
Penalties-yards 4-30 8-65
RUSHING — UANL: Saul Diaz 13-127, Jorge Gonzalez 6-31, Fernandez 10-7, Andrey Frausto 1-4, Diego Gonzalez 1-1, Oscar Rodriguez 1-0, Miguel Rosales 2-(-1), Aguilar 3-(-19); Temple: Jackson 11-47, Willis 13-40, Samari Howard 7-33, Luke Allen 1-13, Ky’Juan Pugh 6-13, Thomas McVade 1-(-3).
PASSING — UANL: Aguilar 3-5-0-77, Fernandez 4-10-0-74; Temple: Willis 18-29-1-306.
RECEIVING — UANL: Herrera 2-58, Garcia 2-56, Rosales 1-17, Fernando Garcia 1-12, Edgar Bocardo 1-8; Temple: Johnston 7-220, Carlysle 5-43, KD Freeman 4-27, Howard 1-8, AJ McDuffy 1-8.