PHILADELPHIA -- Bernard Pierce ran wild in the second half Saturday and finished with 189 yards and three touchdowns in Temple's 34-16 victory over Kent State in Mid-American Conference play.
The Owls (8-4, 5-3) have won eight games or more for three straight seasons for the first time in school history. This marks the most victories by a first-year Temple coach, Steve Addazio.
With its third straight victory, Temple is bowl-eligible for the third straight season. Last year, Temple was the only program in the country with a winning record that was snubbed by the bowls.
The Owls led Kent State (5-7, 4-4) 10-6 at halftime despite losing quarterback Chris Coyer to an injury on the third play. In the second half, Pierce exploded for 167 yards and all three touchdowns, scoring on runs of 18, 25 and 69 yards. Pierce averaged 9.8 yards on each of his 17 second-half carries.
Kent State took a 6-0 lead early in the second quarter, capitalizing on the first of backup Temple quarterback Chester Stewart's two first-half fumbles. After recovering at the Temple 16, the Golden Flashes needed three plays to score on Jacquise Terry's 11-yard run. Temple's Kee-ayre Griffin blocked the extra point try.
On the ensuing kickoff, Matt Brown returned it 100 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and a lead Temple never relinquished. It was the second 100-yard kickoff return in school history. Five seconds before halftime, a 33-yard field goal by Brandon McManus made it 10-6 at the break. Then Pierce took over in the second half to end Kent State's four-game winning streak and keep Temple's hopes for a second bowl invitation in three years alive.
The Owls are one of six bowl-eligible teams from the MAC. The victory may have solidified a berth in the December 31st Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco's AT&T Park.