PHILADELPHIA -- Cooper Rego dove in from the 1 with 5:22 to play to lift West Virginia to a wild, 29-24 Big East victory over Temple at Franklin Field Thursday.
The winning score came after Temple turned a pair of WVU special teams miscues into a 24-23 lead.
But WVU's offense was up to the task, driving 88 yards for the game-winning score. The drive was highlighted by Rego's 43-yard run that gave the Mountaineers a first-and-goal at the Temple 7.
After a sluggish first half, West Virginia came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter, outscoring Temple 16-0.
Ironically, it wasn't West Virginia's running game that did in the Owls, who led 10-7 at the half.
It was the passing of much-maligned Brad Lewis and special teams play that turned the game around.
Lewis, who was knocked out of the game briefly in the second quarter after throwing a 63-yard pass to Khori Ivy, was nearly flawless in the second half.
The junior quarterback directed an 11-play, 70-yard drive at the outset of the second half to give WVU its first lead of the game.
Three times Lewis converted third-down throws to keep the drive moving, the final one to Ivy for the drive-capping touchdown of 11 yards.
The special teams then came up with a big play when Phil Braxton blocked a Temple punt that eventually went out of bounds in the end zone for a safety.
Braxton then returned the ensuing kickoff to the WVU 44. From there, the Mountaineers marched 56 yards in 10 plays with Lewis capping the drive with a 1-yard pass to tight end Tim Frost.
This gave WVU a 23-10 with 3:04 remaining in the period.
But the sparkling special teams turned sour after this. First, Ben Collins dropped a sure first down near midfield on a fake punt. Then, after WVU's defense forced a Temple punt, the ball hit WVU's David Carter with the Owls recovering at the WVU 10.
On the ensuing play, backup quarterback Mike Frost hit Greg Muckerson for a touchdown to make it 23-17.
After forcing a WVU punt, a 24-yarder by Mark Fazzolari, Temple drove 45 yards in 8 plays to take the lead on a 15-yard pass from Frost to Charles Cobb.
This set up Rego's heroics on the final drive.
Temple dominated the first quarter, racking up 97 yards of total offense compared to just 34 for the Mountaineers.
The Owls held the ball for 10:02 and led six first downs to two, but led just 3-0.
That quickly changed at the ouset of the second quarter.
After forcing a West Virginia punt, the Owls took over at their own 34.
On the ensuing play, Sharps took a handoff, bolted off tackle faked out two defenders and raced down the left sidelines. He evaded one last gasp dive by safety Ricky Sherrod on his way to a 66-yard touchdown.
Cap Poklemba, who had earlier connected on a 28-yars field goal, added the PAT and Temple led 10-0 with 14:27 remaining in the first period.
After a 31-yard kickoff return by Shawn Terry, WVU found itself facing a third-and-two two plays later. The Mountaineers took a timeout to discuss things.
When play resumed, Lewis found Ivy downn the left sidelines on a fade pattern. Ivy juked past a Temple defender, cut to the middle of the field before cutting back again.
He was finally hauled down just short of the goal line. On the next play, Cooper Rego scored for the Mountaineers to cut the lead to 10-7 at the 12:05 mark.
Poklemba later missed a 48-yard field as neither team seriously threatened the remainder of the half.
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.