BOCA RATON, Fla. - Stopping the run was considered the key for Temple entering Tuesday's Boca Raton Bowl matchup with Toledo.
And even though the Rockets averaged 4.5 yards per carry and gained 150 yards, the difference in this one came at quarterback.
Temple's P.J. Walker showed great courage, taking one big hit after another while still competing hard, but his counterpart, senior Phillip Ely, was flawless.
There was no surprise when Ely was named the Offensive MVP in Toledo's 32-17 win over Temple. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Ely came up biggest in the fourth quarter. Ely was 5 for 5 for 117 yards and five touchdowns. For the game he compelted 20 of 28 passes for 285 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
"I thought Phillip played really, really well," Temple coach Matt Rhule said.
Not physically imposing at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Ely has a strong arm, but what makes him effective is his quick release.
He has only been sacked four times all year. Temple never sacked him and Ely frequently had plenty of time to throw.
Much of that goes to the offensive line, which Rhule had lauded all week and then the unit earned the Temple coach's praise.
One of the difference-making plays Ely made in the fourth quarter came with Toledo leading 12-9 and beginning a drive on its own 20. Temple had gotten back into the game and was feeling good about itself.
Then Ely connected with Cody Thompson on an 80-yard scoring pass on a deep post.
"That was a heck of a throw and they just executed," Rhule said. "I didn't think it was going to be a pass and thought it was a run and he came up and ripped it and it was a nice play.
What made his performance more impressive is that it rained throughout the game, often coming down hard.
"It was really difficult, especially as a quarterback," Ely said of the weather. "But in the end that's reality and you've got to deal with the situation."
This is a player who began his career at Alabama, earned the starting job last year, only to suffer a season-ending injury in the second game.
So this was his first and only full time season as a starter.
In Temple's three previous losses, the Owls had been hurt by the running (and in some instances the passing) of dual threat quarterbacks. Ely isn't a threat to run. In fact he had no rushing attempts against the Owls, but the way he ran the offense, managed the game and made big plays, was simply just too much Temple to overcome.