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Temple receiver Christopher prepares for final game

It might have been the most important completion of Temple's season and it wasn't surprising that receiver John Christopher made it.

It might have been the most important completion of Temple's season and it wasn't surprising that receiver John Christopher made it.

The 5-foot-11, 189-pound senior is the epitome of a team player. Christopher does not worry about playing time or statistics, and his efforts on and off the field have played a major role in Temple's revival.

As for the catch, it occurred during the third game of the season. Temple had opened with upset wins over Penn State and Cincinnati but was staring at defeat, trailing by 23-22 at Massachusetts in the final minute.

On third and 6 from the UMass 27 with no timeouts remaining, Christopher caught a 12-yard pass from P.J. Walker and got out of bounds at the UMass 15 with 12 seconds left. Austin Jones then booted a 32-yard field goal, averting an upset.

Temple had marched 50 yards on 10 plays in 1 minute, 14 seconds.

Had Temple lost that game, the Owls would have forfeited the early momentum and they wouldn't have entered their Notre Dame showdown 7-0.

So Christopher's catch, if not the biggest of the season, surely ranks near the top.

"That whole drive was a great experience for us," Christopher said earlier this week as the Owls (10-3) prepared to face Toledo (9-2) in the Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday. "That was a building experience for us as an offense, to go down and win that way."

Temple departed for Florida on Thursday. Christopher played for Seabreeze High in Daytona Beach, so he is returning to his home state.

"Within these walls, he is a marquee guy," Temple coach Matt Rhule said. "He is a guy if you ask the players, who do you respect it's always John."

Christopher has 19 receptions for 205 yards this season. Never one to be comfortable in the limelight, he turned the attention to his quarterback.

"Everybody talks of the catch, but the throw was on a dime and he put it in a perfect spot."

Christopher has been nursing a foot injury, but he says he will be ready to go against Toledo.

He was on the team when Temple went to its last bowl game. That was in 2011 when the Owls beat Wyoming, 37-15, in the New Mexico Bowl. Christopher was a redshirt player that season but took a great deal from the experience.

"That senior class was great, full of leaders and performed week in and week out," Christopher said. "We said we need to be like that senior class, a solid group who we have tried to take after."

The seniors this season have been solid leaders and Christopher has been one of many setting the example.

He originally was not recruited by Temple. Christopher said he was going to attend an NAIA school in Missouri but signed late with Temple after one of its recruited receivers failed to qualify academically.

"I signed a letter of intent without coming here and took a leap of faith," he said.

"It has been a surreal time and it's winding down. I am just trying to enjoy the moment."

Christopher, who already has his degree in exercise science, will attend chiropractic school beginning in April, so will be his last football game.

As he gets ready to depart, Christopher has left a major impact on the program.

"Nobody has helped us build this more than he has," Rhule said. "I love John Christopher."