Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Owls Lose Hard-Fought Sun Belt Battle

Murfreesboro, Tennessee- FAU Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger met Middle Tennessee State University Coach Rick Stock still almost 26 years ago when Stock still was the quarterback for Florida State and Schnellenberger was coach at the University of Miami. The score of that game in 1980 was 10-9 in favor of Schnellenberger’s Hurricanes. MTSU Blue Raider Coach Rick Stockstill, in his first year of coaching, evened the score with a win over FAU Saturday.

In front of 18,712 fans the Owls put up a valiant fight, but came up short on a tough road assignment against the current first place Sun Belt team. FAU lost 35-14 to MTSU. FAU wide receiver Casey McGahee, who caught one touchdown pass in the game, felt the Owls play was better than the final score.

“We had every opportunity in the world to win the game,” McGahee said.

FAU hadn’t let an opponent score since Oct. 18 when Louisiana- Lafayette scored twice in the first half of a 6-0 win for the Ragin’ Cajuns. That all changed when MTSU Blue Raider Eugene Gross scored on a two-yard touchdown run with just over eight minutes left in the second quarter. Even though FAU has won two out of the three previous meetings between the two, Eugene Gross has scored six touchdowns in the last two games of the series between the two teams. Gross also scored on the next possession.

The Owls would not give up despite a 14-0 deficit. On the last drive of the half for FAU, quarterback Rusty Smith replaced starting quarterback Sean Clayton and drove the Owls 67 yards, capped by a nine-yard touchdown pass to Casey McGahee. With the score 14-7 at the start of the third quarter, MTSU kick return specialist Damon Nickson returned the opening kickoff of the second half 94 yards to make the score 21-7 in favor of the Blue Raiders. Quarterback Rusty Smith enjoyed more playing time, and he also tried to find the positives in a tough loss.

“If you play with your head in the gutters you can’t go anywhere,” Smith said.

MTSU drove twice deep in FAU territory, but two plays by the Owls talented defensive tackles kept the game close. On one drive Jervonte Jackson halted a Blue Raider scoring opportunity with a third down sack. On the next drive Randy Hunter came up with a fumble on the two-yard line. Had the Blue Raider not fumbled, the game would have been out of reach. Just when it looked as if FAU would come back, the Owls fumbled. MTSU recovered and returned it 53 yards to make the score 28-7.

“They took advantage of each bad play we made,” Schnellenberger said.

Fact Box? Middle Tennessee has brand new field turf at Floyd Stadium. Field turf is a soft, spongy, artificial turf. Millions of small rubber balls spread out on the turf and softens the impact of players and the ground. Troy University also has field turf.

? Floyd Stadium holds 30,788 at capacity. 22,000 students attended MTSU last year.

? The game was televised on CSS (Comcast Sports South).

? This was the fourth time FAU and Middle Tennessee have played. FAU won two out of the previous three meetings.

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