Game Day Notebook

NEW ORLEANS, LA – The Owls came out gangbusters on their opening drive. After DiIvory Edgecomb returned the opening kickoff near midfield, Rusty Smith handed off to Charles Pierre and Willie Rose and the two powered through the Memphis defense. Smith found Pierre for a four-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive. As the Tigers defense crowded the middle of the field Pierre snuck away to the left and was wide open. The Owls were on the board just 2:57 seconds into their first bowl game ever.

For those that came to see a defensive battle, they picked the wrong game. The teams had combined for 600 total yards by the middle of the third quarter and ended up with 863 for the game. Each team scored on their opening drive with little defensive resistance. Both teams’ passing games were in high gear early the game. But, the Owls stayed hot and Smith completed TD passes to Pierre, Rose, Chris Bonner, Edgecomb, and Jason Harmon.

The offensive line of Nick Paris, Jarrid Smith, David Matlock, Vinnie Henderson, Brandon Jackson, John Rizzo, and Zachary Wichner provided excellent protection for Smith all night long.

Defense muscles up As the game moved on, the FAU defense bucked down and harnessed the Memphis wide receivers. Memphis and FAU came into the game with similar stats, each giving up about 30 points a game. The combined points total of 71 was the highest ever for a New Orleans Bowl.

The Owls were forced into nickel coverage while the Tigers often utilized a spread formation with four wide receivers. After giving up some big plays early, the defensive backfield of Kris Bartels, Taheem Acevedo, Corey Small, Tavious Polo and Greg Joseph muscled up.

Frantz Joseph forced a second quarter fumble that was originally ruled FAU ball but upon review stayed with the Tigers. The decision proved costly for the Owls and Memphis kicked a field goal to make the score 17-10.

Seniors Cergile Sincere, Bartels and Acevedo led the defense in their final game. Sincere provided some vicious hits. Bartels broke up several passes. Acevedo recorded eight tackles.

The 20-game interception streak ended for FAU, but it was not for a lack of defensive effort. The Owls gave up just seven points in the second half after allowing 20 in the first half and keeping Memphis below their season average.

The Edgecomb Show DiIvory Edgecomb does it all.

The versatile kick returner/runningback/receiver had his best game of a stellar season. He returned the opening kickoff 42 yards, then followed that up with a 63-yarder. His second return was the longest in New Orleans Bowl history. The Tigers did their best to kick away from Edgecomb after that. He still ended up with 151 return yards.

Edgecomb has been providing the Owls with excellent field position all season, even after returning from a serious ankle sprain sustained in the overtime win Louisiana-Lafayette.

In the first quarter he caught a 29-yard TD pass out of the backfield to give the Owls a 17-7 lead. In the fourth quarter he ran for a four-yard score that sealed the win.

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