FAU wins sixth straight, remains unbeaten in conference play with 48-23 win over La. Tech
Ruston, LA (Sun Sentinel) —
Florida Atlantic cruised to a school record sixth-straight win Saturday, beating Louisiana Tech, 48-23. While the outcome was the same, the way the Owls got there was much different than their previous wins.
“I didn’t [know] that was a record [six straight wins], but I didn’t know it was 17 years without a kickoff return either,” FAU Coach Lane Kiffin said. “I’m just excited they're getting national recognition for their work.”
This time, it was the arm of quarterback Jason Driskel, instead of the legs of Devin “Motor” Singletary, that led Owls. Driskel threw two touchdown passes in the first half to give FAU a 20-9 lead in the first half.
The Owls scored on their first possession - a 13-play drive that covered 88 yards. It was capped by a 3-yard touchdown run by Singletary, who also converted a fourth-and-1 at the FAU 21. The FAU two-point conversion was no good.
Tech answered on the following drive, with a Jonathan Barnes 26-yard field goal after the drive stalled in the red zone.
Kiffin used the Tech defense’s aggressiveness in trying to stop the run against them on the Owls’ first drive of the second quarter. Out of the WildOwl formation, the quarterback handed it to the wing that came in motion on a sweep to the left. Driskel, who was lined up wide to the left, backed up and received the ball from the running back. He found a wide open Kalib Woods for a 77-yard touchdown pass.
The score gave the Owls a 13-3 lead with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half.
Again, Tech would answer, but only with another Barnes field goal from 24 yards out, the second of his three in the first half. The last would come from 22 yards out as time expired.
Meanwhile, the Owls’ offense would again use the aggressiveness of the Tech defense to work their favor as Driskel faked a quick screen to the FAU sideline. The Tech secondary came up on the pump fake, and Harrison Bryant slipped behind the defense for a 33-yard touchdown.
“I felt that we needed to do those things even if we missed it because everyone is playing down because of our run game,” Kiffin said. “These guys did exactly what we thought - playing man on us every snap in the first half and putting an extra guy in the box. So if you take them, even if you don’t hit them, they have to back up a little bit.”
Driskel finished with 221 yards passing, completing 14-of-17 passes.
“I have always been comfortable in our offense,” Driskel said. “Sometimes I am asked to do different things, and that is what happened tonight.”
Even with a 20-9 lead at the half, the best was yet to come for the Owls.
It wasn’t a long wait either as Kerrith Whyte Jr. returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown - the first in Florida Atlantic history.
“I did know that it was the first one,” Whyte said. “People have been telling me since I got here last year. We were just being patient and finally got one. I was thankful for my other 10 teammates for making that happen.”
FAU got its “Motor” going in the third quarter as Singletary began to find holes in the Tech defensive front, including a 44-yard touchdown run with 2 minutes, 44 seconds left in the third quarter that extended the Owl lead to 42-16.
That touchdown was the Owl response to Tech’s only touchdown in the third quarter, a 34-yard pass from J’Mar Smith to Teddy Veal.
Both teams scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter. FAU’s Greg Howell scored a 3-yard run with 37 seconds left in the game. Tech’s Boston Scott scored on a 5-yard run with 5 minutes, and four seconds left.
Florida Atlantic will now turn their attention to Florida International, who they will play in the Shula Bowl in Boca Raton on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.