Owls get shot down

Miami, FL– The Owls could not find a way to fly away from the Oklahoma State Cowboys, instead found out what it’s like to play with the elite of college football Thursday night when key mistakes cost them a chance at creating an upset during a 23-3 loss at Dolphins Stadium. Even though Dolphins Stadium was well below capacity, the enthusiasm the Owl fans possessed proved to a primetime national ESPN TV audience, that the Owls belonged in Division I football. The FAU defense led by Shomari Earls, Kris Bartels, and Willie Hughley, showed the Cowboys that this game was not to be taken lightly, but to be taken seriously as the biggest game in FAU football history. The fans that attended the game were a collective group of students and alumni that refused to sit still all game. When the Cowboys were on offense, the record attendance of 16,421, caused noise problems for the OSU quarterback, and the Cowboys, who were playing their first football game in Florida since 1991.

FAU hung strong in the first quarter of the contest, with the defense playing nine minutes of a fifteen minute quarter without allowing Oklahoma State to make a touchdown. After the Owls lost a fumble on a punt return, the Cowboys took advantage of an early turnover and great field position to make it 3-0 with a field goal. On the next play FAU was surprised by a trick onside kick, which was recovered by Oklahoma State, leading to another field goal making it 6-0.

The Owls came right back with a nice offensive drive and a field goal by Daniel Kennard, making it 6-3 in favor of the Cowboys. That’s the closest the Owls came to an upset of the Big 12 Cowboys.

Defensive end Josh Pinnick felt the defense had the best outing in his three years at FAU. He felt field position mistakes put the defense in a position with their backs against the wall.

“They did not drive the field once, except for a field goal. I’ll stand by that if anyone wants to come and say something,” said Pinnick. In both of FAU’s losses, field position seemed to cost the Owls both games, and players felt the frustration of letting one slip away on national TV.

“We played on a short field all day. You know we looked really young, on special teams. I knew the offense would struggle a little bit because they’re young too, but you can’t put it on any of that, we could of stopped them in situations,” said Pinnick.Senior Quarterback Danny Embick, led the Owls in rushing with 5 rushes for 51 yards, but those were mostly runs by Embick, who seemed to be running for his life from the swarming Cowboys defense. Embick is not scared about what’s happened the first two games, but optimistic.

“I’m fine. I’m not freaking out, they’ve done better than I expected. This is a young program facing Big 12 teams, we were able to do some things, we just need to get better,” said Embick.

Coach Howard Schnellenberger felt the level of competition FAU has faced the last two weeks, was the toughest the Owls have faced in 5 years of football.

“These Big 12 teams are better than Hawaii, and North Texas,” said Schnellenberger, commenting on past big win games.

The students that did make the drive from Boca Raton, were a collective group of painted, school spirited, loud, and determined college football fans. Steve Guy, an architecture major at FAU, enjoyed the tailgating before the game but felt he needed to be surrounded by more of his college peers from FAU.

“It was fun, we need more people though, I mean we need people to come out,” said Guy.

One obvious issue facing students that attended the game was the need for a stadium on the FAU campus. Coach Schnellenberger wants to propose a domed stadium, but students and alumni feel an open air stadium would best suit FAU. Owl fans feel a bit uncomfortable playing in someone else’s home stadium, and an outdoor stadium would actually be an advantage for FAU when northern schools travel down here to play games during the end of the summer heat-wave.

FAU student Kim Rearge likes the possibibility of the Owls playing on or near the campus. “It would be nice, oh yeah definitely,” said Rearge.

She also feels this move could bring more non tradititional Owl fans to the game, creating more camaraderie with Owl fans.

“There’s not too much school spirit between people who don’t live in the dorms,” said Rearge.

For the second week in a row graduated FAU alumni football players lined the sidelines, and last week in Lawrence, Kansas, former FAU quarterback Jared Allen made the trip from his home state of Oklahoma. Former FAU football player Kevin Fischer who just had a lengthy tryout with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers N.F.L. team feels the two non conference games so far against Big 12 opponents will strengthen the Owls when it’s time for Sun Belt Conference games.

“It’s going to help FAU because of the level of competition, the only thing you can do to get better eventually is to play better teams, you can’t simulate that in practice no matter what you do,” said Fischer.

Fischer sees the potential future roaming the sidelines of the FAU football program he helped lay the foundation for.

“There still a young team that makes mistakes, but the ability is there to win some games.”

Next up for the Owls is the University of Minnesota, FAU strong safety Kris Bartels feels the Minnesota Golden Gophers will be another tough test.

“We expect them to be bigger than us. We have some speed, but I’m sure they have some speed also,” said Bartles.

Defensive leader Linebacker Shomari Earls again was banged up late in the game with a neck injury. Let’s again hope with 9 days rest he and the rest of the Owls can score an upset versus Minnesota, who seems to be counting FAU as a win while they’re looking forward to two weeks from now with a showdown against Purdue. Kris Bartles feels FAU’s ready to hang with the big dogs of college football.

“We know who we can play with now, coming into the season we were a bit unsure,” said Bartles.