Owls Sink Gophers for Landmark Win

Tavious Polo made a diving interception in the final seconds to end Minnesota’s comeback attempt and seal the most significant win in FAU history, 42-39. It was the Owls’ first-ever win over a team from a BCS Conference.

“I knew it was coming,” Polo said. “I told my safety, ‘the next time they run that hitch route, I’m jumping it, watch my back,’ and then it happened and I jumped it.”

Rusty Smith played the best game of his career and lead the Owls’ prolific offense.

Smith set school records in passing with 463 yards and attempts with 44; he also threw five touchdowns.

“It was important to come out here and move the ball effectively, and we did that and our confidence went through the roof,” Smith said.

Up 42-39 with 3:20 left in the game, the Owls (2-1) needed to keep possession of the ball and run down the clock. On third down, Lester Jean made a dramatic catch, using every last centimeter of his fingertips to haul in a Smith pass to keep possession. The Owls then ran the clock down to 44 seconds and were forced to punt. Minnesota (1-2) then took over with 33 seconds to go on their own 25-yard line and with no timeouts. They moved the ball into long field goal range and then Polo struck in the waning seconds, ending the comeback bid and ensuring the upset.

The receiving corps of Lester Jean, Conshario Johnson, Jason Harmon, Jamari Grant, Cortez Gent and Chris Bonner had its best collective game helping Smith to his new record. Gent and Harmon both collected over 100 yards receiving, the first time the Owls have ever had that happen. Scoring touchdowns for the Owls were Willie Rose, DiIvory Edgecombe, Johnson, and Jean, who scored his first career TD.

“That wasn’t my first touchdown,” Jean, a freshman, said. “It was just my first touchdown playing for FAU.”

The Owls usually employ a more conservative pro-style offense than the Gophers’ spread-coast system, but the Owls were the ones racking up points in the first half with a ‘spread and no-huddle’ style of their own.

“It was fun, we basically just tried to confuse them,” running back Charles Pierre said. “I guess they underestimated us and we got ’em.”