PHILADELPHIA — The ball just seemed to hang there. It was up to Adrian McDonald to go and get it.
The Houston sophomore safety's interception with 1:06 left was the deciding play in the Cougars' 22-13 victory over Temple in the American Athletic Conference football debut for both teams before 27,328 at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
It was the first league game in the American, which Houston joined from Conference USA. Temple is one of six former Big East teams that also make up the conference.
The interception and 40-yard return erased Houston's red zone woes, as the Cougars went 1-for-8 without scoring a touchdown. The pick also staved off a late Temple drive and set up Ryan Jackson's 10-yard touchdown run that sealed the victory.
"I just went up and got the ball, and I knew how much time was left, so I wasn't really trying to do too much," McDonald said. "If there was probably like 10 minutes left in the game, I probably would have tried to score."
Houston relied heavily the first three quarters on kicker Richie Leone, who hit five field goals. There were four lead changes, the last coming on Leone's fifth field goal, a 22-yarder with 2:39 left in the third quarter.
With 12 seconds left, Jackson ended Houston's red zone drought with a 10-yard TD run.
Temple had red-zone issues, too. With 37 seconds left in the third, Paul Layton missed a 25-yard field goal wide left that would have given the Owls a 16-15 lead.
"Our defense gave us a chance, they kept them out of the end zone for 58 minutes," Temple coach Matt Rhule said.
No. 8 Louisville 44, E. KY. 7: The Cardinals might need to start earning style points to go along with their victories.
Coach Charlie Strong certainly wants more.
Teddy Bridgewater threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns for the host Cardinals, who just missed a shutout for a second straight week.
"You'd like to see that happen just because we feel like we have made a move and we've raised the standard and we've taken another step and we would have gone out there today and taken care of business, which we didn't do," Strong said.
Linebacker Preston Brown had two of Louisville's four sacks, and Calvin Pryor had an interception. Eastern Kentucky had 76 yards of offense in the first half but the Cardinals weren't happy about losing the shutout.
"Through the first three quarters, we pretty much had a shutout," defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin said. "They ended up getting a score at the end of the second half."
The Cardinals also settled for two John Wallace field goals early after turnovers gave the offense short fields.
The Colonels, whose campus is about 100 miles away, had hopes of joining the eight Division I-AA teams who pulled off upsets of I-A teams in the opening week.
Illinois 45, Cincinnati 17: The Bearcats not only were blown out on the road, they lost quarterback Munchie Legaux, who was carted off the field in the fourth quarter and taken to a hospital.
Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said Legaux, a senior, had a serious left leg injury and said, "it doesn't look good."
Legaux was hit by two Illini players as he dropped back to pass, his leg appearing to bend unnaturally at the knee.
"It was just a horrible, horrible, horrible scene," watching him squirm like that," said Illini linebacker Greg Blair, who held Legaux's hand and prayed as he lay on the field.
Legaux was 17-31 for 237 yards and a touchdown when he left. Nathan Scheelhaase passed for 312 yards and four touchdowns for the Illini.
Duke 28, Memphis 14: Reserve quarterback Brandon Connette, subbing for injured starter Anthony Boone, threw for 198 yards and two fourth-quarter TDs for the visiting Blue Devils. Connette was 14-of-21 after entering in the second quarter. Coach David Cutcliffe said Boone suffered a broken collarbone. Paxton Lynch, a redshirt freshman in his first start, was 14-of-24 for 148 yards for Memphis.
Rutgers 38, Norfolk St. 0: Sophomore running back Paul James ran for 119 yards and three TDs for the host Scarlet Knights against their Division I-AA opponent. Rutgers limited Norfolk State to 133 yards and set up two touchdowns with turnovers.
SMU 31, Montana State 30: Garrett Gilbert hit wide receiver Darius Joseph for the winning 4-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left as the host Mustangs barely avoided an upset by the I-AA Bobcats. SMU scored the final 12 points.