Football: FAU mistakes contribute largely to 51-17 loss to Texas

Franco Panizo

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A loss was always expected, but the manner in which it came was not.

FAU’s three-game winning streak came to a close on Saturday afternoon as the Owls (4-6) contributed to their 51-17 loss to the Texas Longhorns (5-6) at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium by constantly shooting themselves in the foot.

The Owls were in the game against the more talented Longhorns for three quarters, but a fourth-quarter collapse turned the 30-17 scoreline into a complete blowout.

On the first play of the final quarter, quarterback Jeff Van Camp threw an interception to Emmanuel Acho, who returned it 57 yards for a touchdown.

That would spark the 21-point fourth quarter for Texas, but that type of mistake was a constant for the Owls.

Along with the pick-six, FAU lost the ball through a Willie Floyd fumble in the fourth quarter. That turnover also ended in points as Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert rushed into the end zone from one yard out.

“We had a good chance and it was like this whole season — we just made too many penalties and a lot of missed opportunities to regain momentum and take over the game,” running back Alfred Morris told FAUOwlAccess.com. “We didn’t execute and had a lot of mistakes and we need to continue to work on that.”

The mistakes didn’t come only in the final quarter, though.

In the early moments of the game, the Owls wasted a huge opening drive goal-line stand by turning the ball over through a Van Camp interception. Texas wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, as it punched the ball into the end zone.

Another costly blunder came at the end of the first half when Gilbert hit Malcolm Williams for a touchdown with a 47-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired.

“We had our opportunities,” Van Camp told the Sun-Sentinel. “It is not like we couldn’t play with them.”

In the big picture, though, the loss means very little.

FAU went into the game as a severe underdog, and winning was always improbable. Head coach Howard Schnellenberger even admitted as much to the media earlier in the season.

What the Owls must do from here is focus on the positives and cut the mistakes from their game, as they can still become bowl-game-eligible with wins against Middle Tennessee State and Troy in the final two weeks of the season.

One of those positives was the play of tight end Rob Housler, who made two touchdown catches. Housler will need to continue his recent string of strong outings for the Owls to have a chance at getting victories in the crucial Sun Belt Conference games.

Housler’s size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) can present problems for defenses, and mismatches are typical when he’s on the field. FAU must continue to look for him, especially since he is one of the few players who has consistently made plays in the passing game this season.

As for eliminating the mistakes? That is up to the coaches to correct and the players to execute.

The season is on the line on every snap from here on out for the Owls, and that should be reason enough to play mistake-free football.