The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is not an ordinary bowl game. The name itself is derived from a pirate who was known to frequent the St. Petersburg, FL area. The game itself is played in Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays, a major league baseball team. With the 28-3 win over FIU Thursday, the Owls did something they have not done since 2011: Win a bowl game.
The game itself was a microcosm of the whole season. It was incredibly close early on with a few miscues. The team committed a Gasparilla Bowl record ten penalties. Injuries to key players happened during the game. But what the team did at the end and secured the victory showed that it had done the most important thing, learn how to win down the stretch.
Sitting on the dais after the game with the bowl trophy in front of him, Temple head coach Geoff Collins was all smiles after his team’s victory.
“It was a great game,” Collins said. “I couldn’t be more proud of this group of guys. The senior class is the all-time winningest class in Temple University history. What they did the last five games showed throughout the entire bowl season was as good or better than I’ve ever been around. The content of character in this group of young men is amazing and it should be celebrated.
FIU’s offense had trouble in the first half after FIU senior starting quarterback Alex McGough suffered a broken collarbone during FIU’s opening drive. Sophomore backup quarterback Maurice Alexander came in to lead the Panther attack but struggled early, only completing 4 of his first 11 attempts. Alexander settled in and led the Panthers to one of their better drives of the game in the third quarter. However, the Panthers settled for a field goal, their only points of the game.
“At the time we weren’t exactly sure whether or not it was his shoulder and it turned out to be a fractured collarbone,” said FIU head coach Butch Davis. “He couldn’t pick his arm up, he is such a tough kid but he’s gotten hit a lot of times scrambling, creating plays and some of the times on triple option plays, he gets up and he will shake it off. Clearly, it was the right call by our training staff and our medical people to take him out of the game.”
After the victory, it is hard to find one storyline to lead the story. Maybe it could be quarterback Frank Nutile. Nutile, who was tapped midseason to quarterback a team and try to lead it to bowl eligibility, won the game’s MVP award for his two total touchdown performance. Another storyline could focus the fact that linebacker William Kwenkeu, who had to rush back to the team after obtaining his American citizenship Wednesday and have his best game as an Owl, a six tackle, two-sack game. Maybe it was the fact the senior class wanted to go out as the winningest class in Temple football history and was able to do it. It’s hard to choose one. One thing is for sure, this will go down as one of the best senior classes ever to go through North Philadelphia.