Temple rallied from a 20-point deficit, overcame three turnovers and held on late to defeat Harker Heights 38-36 in a Thursday night District 12-6A barnburner at Leo Buckley Stadium.

The Wildcats (5-1, 3-0), who won their third straight, didn’t lead until AJ McDuffy’s leaping 7-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Humberto Arizmendi at the 9:57 mark of the third quarter made it 24-23.

They were up 31-23 after running back Samari Howard — who reached the 100-yard rushing mark for a fifth consecutive outing — bulldozed his way in at the end of an 11-yard TD jaunt with 4:07 to go in the third before the Knights (3-3, 1-2), pulled within two points for the first time.

Quarterback Shaun West’s 2-yard TD toss to Quintin Howard cut Heights’ deficit to 31-29. The 2-point try failed.

McDuffy’s 13-yard scoring reception bumped Temple ahead 38-29 with 7:12 remaining in the fourth. Heights was back in reach after Amieer Washington’s 10-yard TD run — his third — plus the extra point made it 38-36.

Temple, though, ran out the remaining 5:29, clinching the victory with Howard’s 5-yard pickup on third-and-3.

Harker Heights outgained Temple 233-163 in the first half and won the turnover battle over the first 24 minutes, 2-1. And it wasn’t until the Wildcats had spotted the Knights 20 points through Washington’s bruising touchdown runs of 15 and 7 yards and a 20-yard scoring reception by La Princeton Dixon that Temple found some traction.

A five-play, 59 yard drive capped by Howard’s 15-yard TD run brought the Wildcats within 20-7 at 9:52 of the second quarter.

Heights countered with a 25-yard field goal by Diego Fierro for 23-7. That was promptly followed by McDuffy’s 38-yard TD catch and Howard’s subsequent 2-point run, trimming the Wildcats’ deficit to 23-15 with 3:44 to go before halftime.

Temple and Heights played hot potato with the ball over the course of 19 seconds when Tony Bland recovered Arizmendi’s fumble and Faylin Lee intercepted West and returned it 44 yards to the Knights 25-yard line. Aaron Wagaman converted the turnover into three points with a 28-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the period to pull Temple within 23-18.

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