ATHENS, Ohio - For the third consecutive November - albeit a little bit earlier each time - Temple's MAC East fate came down to a matchup with Ohio.

The university, not the state.

In 2009, the Owls closed out the regular-season here, on the day after Thanksgiving, survivor take all. Running back Bernard Pierce, who'd put together a record-setting freshman year, didn't play because of a shoulder injury. Ohio won, 35-17, and proceeded directly to the title game in Detroit.

Twelve months ago, in the next-to-last game, the Bobcats came to South Philly. Pierce hurt his leg on the opening play and never returned. Ohio, after leading by 21 in the fourth quarter, won by eight. The Owls, again without Pierce, lost the following week at eventual MAC champion Miami of Ohio and then became one of only two bowl-eligible teams that didn't get to the postseason.

Which brings us to Wednesday night at Peden Stadium, on ESPN, in front of representatives from two of the MAC's three bowl affiliations.

Pierce wasn't 100 percent this time, either. But for the second straight week, he gave what he had. The last game, that still wasn't quite enough. This turned out to be no different.

Temple, which had to play from behind three times, couldn't quite figure out a way. Ohio won, 35-31, on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 1:41 to go. The Owls had taken their first lead with just under 11 minutes to go, on a 27-yard field goal by Brandon McManus, who kept the drive alive with a 23-yard run on a fake punt from his own 34 on a fourth-and-4.

Ohio went back on top, 28-24, at 7:51 on a 2-yard pass from Tyler Tettleton to Jordan Thompson, its fourth scoring drive of between 78 and 83 yards.

The Owls went 67 yards in only six plays, and again went up by three on a 9-yard pass from Chris Coyer, who'd entered the game late in the first quarter, to Deon Miller.

Hey, Northern Illinois-Toledo was 63-60 on Tuesday.

The Owls will now need a lot of help, if they're going to win the MAC East. Or maybe even just to get to a bowl game. But their final three games are at home.

The Owls (6-3, 4-2) at least found themselves a new quarterback in Coyer, a redshirt sophomore who replaced senior Chester Stewart after the first two possessions produced a pair of first downs.

It was actually a move some had saw coming. Coyer, who'd played sparingly in three other games this year, seems much more suited to run the kind of spread attack that first-year coach Steve Addazio directed as Florida's offensive coordinator.

Stewart, a tough kid who threw for 56 yards in last week's 13-10 loss at Bowling Green, had replaced fourth-year junior Mike Gerardi after the 14-10 Penn State loss in game three.

Coyer finished with 184 yards rushing, one shy of the Temple record for a QB.

It was the first time the Owls had thrown for more than one touchdown in a game since the opener against Villanova.

The Bobcats (5-4, 2-3) wore black helmets for the first time, to go with their all-black uniforms.