Football: FAU loses 5th straight, falling 31-17 at North Texas

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FAU wide receiver Marcus Cunningham tries to elude a tackle. Cunningham finished the game with 3 catches for 32 yards. Photo by Ralph Notaro.

Zack Duarte

FAU wide receiver Marcus Cunningham tries to elude a tackle. Cunningham finished the game with 3 catches for 32 yards. Photo by Ralph Notaro.

DENTON, TX – The Owls came to Texas looking for their first victory of the 2011 season. What they got instead was another loss, the 5th in row, bowing down 31-17 to North Texas.

Needing a win to spark not only team morale but fan interest heading into FAU’s new on-campus stadium, the offense failed to show up for the first three quarters.

After showing significant improvement in the previous two weeks against Auburn and Louisiana-Lafayette the offense again went into its shell. Three quarters into the game the offense had three first downs and were responsible for three of the Owl’s four turnovers which led to 28 UNT points.

FAU actually outgained UNT after three quarters (210-185) but the scoreboard read something very different: UNT 31 FAU 3.

The defense played well after allowing ULL to gain 459 yards last week but this week it was the offense that was inept. The Owls started the game with four possessions in the first quarter which all resulted in punts and only had 19 yards the entire quarter.

FAU running back Alfred Morris makes a cut-back on a run up the field. Morris finished the game with 23 carries and 162 yards and a touchdown. Photo by Ralph Notaro.

After FAU’s defense forced the Mean Green to go three-and-out on their first possession, Travis Jones fumbled the ensuing punt and UNT recovered the ball at the FAU 4 yard line.

Mean Green quarterback Derek Thompson scored on a 1-yard rushing play to make the score 7-0.

The Owls struggled to move the ball again in the second quarter and almost had as many first downs (6) as punts(5) in the half.

Heading into the locker room the score was only 7-0 and the Owls defense was able to contain star running back Lance Dunbar for only 17 yards on the ground.

And then it all fell apart.

Graham Wilbert threw three interceptions and two in a row that were returned for touchdowns which gave UNT a commandi ng 31-0 lead with 7:21 left in the third quarter.

Last week the Owls only had two total yards in the third quarter and this week, instead of building on that, the offense gave up 14 points and put the team in a daunting hole to start off the fourth quarter.

But the Owls weren’t going down easily as they put up another fourth quarter fight just like last week against ULL — and again it was too little, too late.

Coach Howard Schnellenberger pulled quarterback Graham Wilbert and his night was done. Wilbert completed only 10 of his 30 passes for 95 yards and three interceptions.

Backup David Kooi came in and provided a spark as he made plays with his feet, either running for first downs or completing passes while rolling out of the pocket. He completed a 6 yard pass to Darian Williams to make the score 31-17 but the hole the offense had dug for themselves was too big to climb out of.

Kooi finished 6 for 9 with 70 yards and a touchdown but was sacked four times.

The Owls will now head home 0-5, and 0-2 in conference play as they open up their new stadium next week.

“We’re going to come together and get a W next week,” said quarterback Graham Wilbert.