“Blink” Not Enough to Get Past Tough Penguins

The visiting Youngstown State Penguins, ranked 22nd in Division 1-AA, held onto the ball for the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to keep FAU winless on the season.

Coach Schnellenberger said that his team might not be ready for primetime, but they are getting better and this game was evidence of that.

Florida Atlantic played the first half of Saturday’s game the same way they have played the first half of this season, poorly.

The Penguins came to Pro Player Stadium ready to run all over the Owls defense, and FAU seemed happy to oblige.

P.J Mays, senior running back for the Penguins, came into the night needing only 164 yards to break 3,000 for his career. He ran for 64 in the first half as his team piled up 117 yards in that half alone.

Then, just like last week, the Owls’ defense allowed a dominant running team to balance the attack by throwing the ball.

Freshman quarterback Aaron Marshall had only thrown 12 times with four completions for 24 yards in his first two starts. Saturday he threw five times with four completions for 52 in the first half alone.

Finally, Andy Rosas, FAU’s punter, found himself running for his life on a botched punt attempt. Rosas fumbled on the seven, and Youngstown State’s Mike Andrews returned it for a touchdown.

In all, Youngstown had 168 total yards and 24 points in the first half.

FAU’s offense did not do much better, but that should come as no surprise.

Aside from a 41-yard strike from Jared Allen to Brittany Tellis that set up a 48-yard Mark Myers field goal, the Owls had problems moving the ball.

With Anthony Jackson out with a torn ACL, Daveon Barron got his first start. Barron did not get much help from a banged-up offensive line, and the running netted negative 21 yards for the first half.

Youngstown State ran off the field for half time in a tight-lined formation as a team, and was happy with their 24-3 lead, hoping to improve upon their 22nd national ranking by continuing to dominate FAU in the second half.

Then it happened. The moons must have shifted. FAU came out in the second half and they were a totally different team.

Barron started to show why his teammates had nicknamed him “Blink”. Too bad nicknames don’t win ballgames.

The first-time start made everyone believe he can be the workhorse of the team.

With his speed, Barron found gaps around the corners and turned them into big gains, enroute to his first ever touchdown, and 83 yards rushing for the game. Barron’s unexpected rushing opened up the passing game for Jared

Allen. After throwing two completions for 49 yards in the first half, Allen completed 6 more for 64 yards in the second.

“We kept fighting. We started moving the ball and gained some

confidence,” Allen said.

Then the defense started to flex their muscles.

While Youngstown had run the ball so well in the first half, FAU shut them down in the second.

The Owl defense did not let the Penguins cross mid-field in the second half.

They also contributed to sparking the offense with some vicious hits that both got the crowd rocking and frustrated the Penguins.

With three minutes to go in the game, Youngstown’s lead was cut to 24-10 and the Owls believed that they could pull off the upset.

Unfortunately for the Owls football team, the stars were not all in their favor on Oct. 12.

This performance was by far the best the team has had thus far in this, their second season. The learning experience seems to be nearing an end, and it appears to be a time where they can take it to the next level.

The winning level.

They were hitting on all cylinders in the second half at Pro Player Stadium to make it an exciting game in front of a crowd slightly over 6,000.

The Owls just need to put their progress together for a complete game, and this 0-6 season will begin to look promising.

Jared Allen has started three games and completed all of them. He has this offense, which is beaten up with injuries, believing they can move the ball and produce points.

If the team can be upbeat and confident, so can the fans. Look for this team to return home on Nov. 9 with a couple more losses, but the confidence to play with any team in the country.

Homecoming is a good place to look for FAU’s first victory, but do not count out a road upset over a tenacious Troy State by this FAU team hungry to find the win column. But more likely, we’ll have another scenario where the Owls and coaches take some good out of the bad.

A routine with which they’re all too familiar, and something from which the team can break free, with their week-to-week improvements.