FAU suffers first home loss of season to UAB 31-28


Lucky Whitehead goes for a touchdown tying the game 28-28. [ Max Jackson | Photo Editor ]

The Florida Atlantic Owls’ (3-6, 2-3 C-USA) starting offensive line did not help themselves early in their game against the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham.

Incomplete passes and short runs led to multiple FAU punts in the first half. These led to scoring chances for UAB (5-4, 3-2 C-USA), who took full advantage.

Head coach Charlie Partridge saw the difference in his team’s offensive production in both halves. “We’re gonna get to the point where we don’t spot teams points at the beginning of the game,” he said. “The positive is that these kids fight in the second half.”

The Blazers scored early. With 10:30 left in the first quarter, a 4-yard rushing touchdown by running back Jordan Howard gave them a 7-0 lead.

Wide receiver Kamrin Solomon blocked and recovered a punt with 7:50 left in the quarter, putting FAU in good field position. Later, FAU quarterback Jacquez Johnson fired a pass into the hands of wide receiver Lucky Whitehead to tie the game at seven.

With 6:25 left in the first quarter, UAB quarterback Cody Clements hit wide receiver Jamarcus Nelson, who broke away from the defense and ran for a 78-yard touchdown to put the Blazers up 14-7. UAB struck again with 29 seconds left in the half. Running back D.J. Vinson rushed 32 yards to bolster the Blazer’s lead 21-7.

The Owls failed to establish much of an offensive rhythm. FAU ended the half with 46 yards of total offense, compared to UAB’s 291 yards.

In the second half, FAU continued to struggle, failing to make offensive plays and defensive stops. UAB running back Jordan Howard scored his second touchdown of the night in the third quarter, making the score 28-7 in favor of the Blazers.

In the fourth quarter, the Owls offense began to click. Jaquez Johnson hit wide receiver Alex Deleon for a 10-yard touchdown, his second of the game. The score cut UAB’s lead to 28-14.

Running back Tony Moore brought FAU closer to tying the game with a 5-yard rush to make the score 28-21. FAU tied the game at 28 when Jacquez Johnson threw to Lucky Whitehead for a 7-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Whitehead’s second of the game, and Johnson’s third passing touchdown.

“I thought it would give us a spark,” Whitehead said of the play. “ As a team, we came together in the fourth quarter.”

The comeback was all for naught, since UAB broke the tie with a late field goal by kicker Hunter Mullins, which won the game for the Blazers, 31-28. FAU received the ball with three seconds left, but failed to score late.

The Owls will have to win their next three games to get to six wins, the minimum required for bowl consideration. “That was definitely brought up after the game,” Partridge said.

“Nothing different, we just have to keep working,” said Whitehead, when asked what his team had to do to win the remainder of their games this year.

FAU faces the University of North Texas in their next game on Nov. 8.