The Florida Atlantic University football team ran up another big margin of victory in a Conference USA matchup, defeating Louisiana Tech on the road Saturday night, 48-23, for the team's sixth straight win and a 6-0 mark in C-USA play.
"It's really enjoyable watching these kids because they work really hard," said Head Coach Lane Kiffin. "They worked really hard before, the last coaching staff left us with players with great work ethic. I'm just excited, we've been to a lot of bowl games as coaches ... we're just excited that they're getting to do these things, and they're getting national recognition for their work."
The Owls (7-3, 6-0 C-USA) won the toss and deferred. Though the Bulldogs (4-6, 2-4 C-USA) crossed midfield, FAU's defense forced a punt after six playsOn FAU's first possession, they went for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 21, with "Motor"Devin Singletarymoving the chainsFour first downs later, including a 36-yard pass from Jason Driskel to Kalib Woods, set up 1st-and-goal from the 3, and Singletary went in from there for his 20th rushing score of the yearThe Owls were unsuccessful on the 2-point conversion, but still had an early 6-0 lead at 8:45, 1st quarterLA Tech got on the board on their next series, with a 26-yard field goal to halve the Owls' lead to 6-3Though the Bulldogs drove inside the Owls' 10 early in the 2nd, three straight plays were for little, no or negative gain: a Leighton McCarthy tackle for a 1-yard gain, Steven Leggett and Quran Hafizcombining for a 3-yard loss, and an incomplete pass with the LA Tech quarterback under pressure. Then, the field goal attempt missed wide left, keeping the Owls in the leadTwo plays later, the Owls were successful on a trick play: Singletary received the direct snap, handed it off to Kamrin Solomonon the reverse, who lateraled it to Driskel. The redshirt junior quarterback found Woods well beyond any defenders, and in stride, for a 77-yard score and a 13-3 advantageJust like their prior drive, LA Tech moved within the 10 (to the FAU 8), but the FAU defense again stiffened up, holding them to rushing plays of three yards (tackle by Azeez Al-Shaair), negative three yards (Hafiz), and one yard (Hunter Snyder, Ernest Bagnerand a host of other Owls). The Bulldogs had to settle for another field goal attempt, this one good, making it FAU 13, LA Tech 6Driskel then captained a four-play, 70-yard drive in which he was 4-for-4, the last three going 15 yards to Solomon, 20 yards to Willie Wright and capped by a 33-yard score to Harrison Bryant. At this point, with the Owls up 20-6 late in the 2nd, Driskel was 9-for-10 overall for 189 yards and two touchdownsFor the fourth time in the half, the Owl defense was strong near the goal line. LA Tech had 1st-and-goal from the 6 and gained three yards, but then had a negative two-yard pass (tackle by James Pierre) and a rush of no gain (Snyder). Once more, they were held to a field goal attempt, good from 22 as time ran out in the half. FAU took a 20-9 lead into the locker roomThen it only took 14 seconds out of the break for the Owls to earn a milestone: the first kickoff returned by a touchdown in the 17-year history of the program. In game No. 202 and on the team's 814th return, Kerrith Whyte, Jr., took it 98 yards to the end zone to push the lead to 27-9The advantage ballooned further after a 3-and-out gave the Owls a short field, capped by Singletary's second rushing score to go up 34-9Jeremiah Talenicame up with FAU's first sack of the game, midway through the 3rd, with LA Tech on the edge of the red zone. The next pass saw Pierre nearly come up with an interception, setting up a long 3rd down, with the Owls getting the ball back on an unsuccessful 4th down two plays laterAl-Shaair had back-to-back big hits, the second a sack for a seven-yard loss, but LA Tech recovered for their first touchdown on the next play to cut it to 34-16The offense answered quickly, on a four-play drive, with Singletary taking it 44 yards for his third touchdown of the day. Driskel connected with Woods for the 2-point conversion and a 42-16 leadLA Tech had a sustained drive early in the 4th, with a touchdown to make it 42-23On the next series, Singletary went over the century mark in rushing for the eighth straight game, and is only 33 yards away from breaking Alfred Morris' single-season record of 1,392The Owls added points late, keeping the ball on the ground for seven plays, ending on a 3-yard plunge by "Buddy" Gregory Howell, Jr.He had 30 of his 50 yards on the drive. Though the extra point was blocked, that made for the final margin of 48-23Woods totaled 118 yards on just three receptions, while Bryant and Wright led the way with four catches each, for 54 and 36 yards, respectivelyDriskel competed 14 of his first 15 passes on Saturday for 221 yards, and finished 14-of-17 before heading to the bench late in the 4thDefensively, Al-Shaair was once again the team leader with 14 tackles, Rashad Smith added 10, and Chris Tooleyseven. The Owls had nine total tackles for loss in the win
The Owls' final home game of the regular season comes next Saturday, Nov. 18, hosting FIU for the 16th annual Shula Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at FAU Stadium.