PHILADELPHIA — Zay Jones added another Football Bowl Subdivision record to his accomplishments in a 37-10 East Carolina loss to Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday night.
Jones, a senior and a son of Robert Jones, an All-American linebacker on the 1991 Pirates team that went 11-1, had seven catches for 61 yards against the Owls. His dad played on three Super Bowl champions with the Dallas Cowboys.
The production at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles gave the younger Jones 158 receptions for the 2016 season, surpassing previous record holder Freddie Barnes of Bowling Green, who had 155 catches in 2009.
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Temple 37, East Carolina 10 | Nov. 26, 2016
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“It means a lot,” Jones said. “It’s something that I worked hard for. It’s something that this team has worked hard to put me in position for. I didn’t realize I had done it.”
Jones extended his FBS career catches mark to 399.
The win put Temple (9-3, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) in the league championship game at Navy on Saturday as the East Division representatives.
The Pirates were 3-9 overall and 1-7 in the AAC.
First-year ECU coach Scottie Montgomery said his team never really recovered from a 54-17 loss at Virginia Tech on Sept. 24 that dropped the record to 2-2.
“They beat us up a little bit and we never really responded the entire year,” Montgomery said after the season had ended with four straight losses. “I knew it. Saw it. Tried to adjust as much as we could adjust to do the things we could. We couldn’t get the bleeding stopped after that game.
“There’s no worse feeling than having to punt the ball when you’re down without a chance to win. I told our team just now the feeling that we have right now, we won’t have this feeling again. I’ll make sure of that.”
Montgomery will be on the recruiting trail Monday. Strengthening depth on the offensive and defensive fronts is an offseason priority. The former Duke and NFL player has confidence that a number of players who redshirted this year will contribute in 2017.
The Pirates struck first after Shawn Furlow returned the opening kickoff 37 yards to the ECU 42. James Summers picked up a first down on 3rd-and-2 with a 4-yard gain to the Temple 46.
The Pirates converted twice more on third down on their first possession on another run by Summers and a 13-yard pass from Gardner Minshew to Jones.
Minshew connected with Jimmy Williams for a 13-yard score with 9:52 left in the first quarter and Davis Plowman kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
The Owls answered on their ensuing series on a 2-yard run by Ryquell Armstead after a 44-yard pass from Phillip Walker to Adonis Jennings. Aaron Boumerhi kicked the extra point to tie the score at 7 with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
Armstead’s second touchdown from 1-yard out helped the Owls to a 14-7 lead with 2:07 left in the half.
Minshew was sacked by Praise Martin-Oguike and lost a fumble that Martin-Oguike recovered at the ECU 41. He was brought down by Minshew at the Pirates’ 34-yard line. It was the only turnover of the game. Temple drove to take a 21-7 lead on a 3-yard run by Jahad Thomas with 1:09 left in the half.
Plowman missed a 41-yard field goal with 7:07 left in the third quarter. He had hit eight straight.
The Owls moved to take a 27-7 lead after the Plowman boot sailed awry with Thomas going into the end zone from three yards out with 1:21 left in the third quarter. ECU’s Dayon Pratt blocked the extra point attempt.
Plowman subsequently connected from 41 yards as the Pirates got within 27-10 with 12:46 remaining in the game.
Boumerhi kicked a 35-yard field goal with 7:19 to go for a 30-10 Owls lead. Temple went 70 yards in five plays for its final touchdown on a 14-yard run by Jager Gardner with 3:33 to go.
Minshew completed 21 of 34 passes for 183 yards. ECU was outgained, 414-225.
The Pirates committed four penalties for 33 yards. Temple did not have a penalty.