Temple's P.J. Walker completed a short pass, and then the fun began, resulting in a memorable jaunt to the end zone by a special performer.
On the first play of the Cherry and White spring game Saturday at Chodoff Field (at Temple's football facility), the Owls defense was never so happy to give up a long score.
Walker hit Devon Still, the Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman, who lateraled to his 4-year-old daughter, Leah.
After that, a convoy of Temple blockers escorted her as she dashed to the end zone, completing the 45-yard play.
It's right there on the score sheet, recorded as the first touchdown, but really it stood for so much more.
Leah Still's battle with pediatric cancer has drawn national attention. Her father announced last month that her cancer was in remission. With Leah spending so much time at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Devon Still, who is friendly with some of the Owls' coaches, has been able to use Temple's football facility to work out. His daughter has made several trips to the facility as well.
Leah and her father were invited to take part in the pregame coin toss, but Temple also designed the first play, and she had the time of her life.
"It was fun," Leah said about her end-zone foray.
Her father was just as ecstatic.
"She loves playing football," Devon Still said. "Me and her play football a lot by ourselves, and for her to be able to do it on a football field with the whole team running and blocking for her, I know she enjoyed that."
As for the game, Temple went with an offense vs. defense format, in which the 'D' scored points for causing turnovers, stopping the offense, and blocking field-goal or extra-point attempts.
Many of Temple's regulars, especially seniors, didn't play, but all eyes were on Walker, the junior-to-be quarterback.
After slumping as a sophomore, Walker said he was motivated to rebound. He completed 7 of 13 passes for 99 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He hit converted corner Sam Benjamin for a 10-yard score and Romond Deloatch for a 40-yard touchdown.
Walker said he was satisfied with his progress.
"I didn't take any steps back. Last year I felt I took steps back," Walker said. "This year I got better and better."
For what it's worth, the White (the offense) beat the Cherry, 43-23.
Coach Matt Rhule went into the game saying one of his goals was to find playmakers. One who could emerge is Deloatch, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt junior. He had three receptions for 63 yards and the one score.
On defense, one of the standouts, as he has been all spring, was redshirt freshman safety Jyquis Thomas, who had a team-high six tackles.
He said the redshirt year helped. Thomas weighed 180 coming into Temple and said he is now 205.
The extra weight has "allowed me to do more stuff," Thomas said.
No matter how strong players such as Deloatch, Walker, and Thomas looked, they all took a backseat to the little girl who scored the game's first touchdown and tugged on the heartstrings of everyone in the stadium while crossing the goal line.