It was East Carolina’s chance to take the lead in the American Athletic Conference’s East division.
It was also the team’s chance to avenge a 2014 loss, which started the Pirates on a downward spiral and kept them out of one of the so-called “New Year’s Six” major bowl games.
Instead, No. 22 Temple overcame a four-point deficit with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter to top East Carolina 24-14 Thursday.
The Pirates (4-4, 2-2) overcame a penalty-filled first quarter by scoring 14 points in the second to lead 14-10 at the half.
The score stayed that way until 3:31 remaining in the fourth, when Temple wide receiver Robby Anderson pulled in a 23-yard touchdown pass from P.J. Walker to go up 17-14.
Temple cemented its lead a little over a minute later when running back Jahad Thomas rumbled into the end zone from 14 yards out for a 24-14 advantage.
The Pirates had nine penalties for 99 yards and committed two turnovers.
“Temple didn’t beat us, we beat our own selves,” ECU running back Chris Hairston said.
Anderson caught eight passes for a game-high 126 yards, as the Owls moved to 7-0 for the first time in school history. They are 4-0 in conference play.
Playing as a ranked team for the first time since 1976, the Owls got two touchdowns from Thomas and a 28-yard field goal by Austin Jones.
Facing a Temple defense that’s ranked No. 1 in the American in scoring (14.7 points per game), the Pirates didn’t have enough fire power to overcome the late deficit.
Pirates quarterback Blake Kemp came off the bench to throw for 272 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Isaiah Jones caught 10 passes for 106 yards.
Hairston scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to put ECU up 7-3.
Wide receiver Quay Johnson pulled in a seven-yard touchdown pass from Kemp to give ECU its halftime lead.