AMHERST, N.Y. (AP) -- Turner Gill would've preferred a little
less suspense and a lot more scoring.
The win -- however ugly -- Gill will take, coming in his first
game as head coach of perennially struggling Buffalo.
When James Starks sealed the 9-3 victory over Temple on Thursday
night, scoring on an 18-yard scamper on Buffalo's first overtime
possession, Gill raised his arms, turned to the cheering crowd and
spiked his clipboard.
Two of Division I-A's most downtrodden programs had just
delivered an early front-runner for worst game of the year, but it
didn't keep the Buffalo faithful from celebrating as if they won
the Rose Bowl.
The fans -- 29,795 showed up for the coaching debut of the former
Nebraska quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist -- then rushed the
field in a wild celebration, capping a significant victory for the
Bulls, who registered their first season-opening win since 1997
when they were a Division I-AA program.
It was also an emotional win for Gill, challenged with turning
around a Mid-American Conference team that had gone 10-69 since
jumping to the Division I-A ranks in 1999.
"It makes it even sweeter," Gill said of winning in overtime.
"It doesn't matter how it comes about, what the score of the game
is, as long as you win by one point that's all you need to do."
Temple's Al Golden, also making his coaching debut, is faced
with a rebuilding job at least as daunting as Gill's
The Owls, who went 0-11 last year, have lost 13 straight and
dropped to 0-15 on the road, their last win coming at Middle
Tennessee State on Oct. 4, 2003.
"I'm disappointed," Golden said. "This is not the type of
team I promised Philadelphia I'd bring."
The game was a difficult one to watch, which is pretty typical
for the Owls and the Bulls. But at least it was competitive.
Buffalo dominated, gaining 356 yards offense to Temple's 183.
Trouble was, the Bulls couldn't score, coming away without a point
on three drives inside the Owls' 20.
Buffalo freshman kicker Taylor Packwood, who missed two earlier
field-goal attempts from 27 and 32 yards, opened the scoring with a
27-yarder with 7:38 remaining.
The Owls responded on the next possession when quarterback Adam
DiMichele marched them 75 yards on 12 plays, capped by Danny
Murphy's 20-yard field goal with 1:44 left. Temple, however, was
forced to settle for the field goal after running back Tim Brown
was stopped three times inside the 3.
Temple failed to score on its overtime possession when
DiMichele, facing third-and-16, forced a pass into the left flats
that was intercepted by Jesse Imes.
Buffalo needed only four plays to score, when Starks followed
his blockers on a sweep right and was untouched going into the end
"I've been waiting for the opportunity and I'm happy about
it," said Starks, a redshirt freshman, who led the Bulls with 86
Starks was just as happy to deliver Gill a victory.
"To give him this win is really great," Starks said. "This is
the first time everybody can say that we really believe, that we
have faith in each other and faith in the coaches."
Gill tried to maintain perspective, even though he had many
family members and friends in attendance. The group on hand
included two of his former Cornhuskers' teammates, receiver Irving
Fryar and running back Mike Rozier. Also present was quarterback
Eric Crouch, whom Gill coached at Nebraska.
"I guess time will tell," Gill said, when asked where this
victory ranked for him. "But it isn't about me. It's more about
this university, this community. ... And I wanted it for these
kids. They've long suffered. But this is just one game."
Bulls quarterback Drew Willy went 12-of-23 for 175 yards.
Brown led the Owls with 81 yards rushing on 19 carries.
DiMichele finished 18-of-22 for 105 yards passing and the