Owls win big (55-10) over New Mexico State University, set record for margin of victory

Rodolphe Ganthier

Owls tight end Nexon Dorvilus amassed 62 yards in an Owl victory over the Aggies on Nov. 23. Photo by Max Jackson.
Owls tight end Nexon Dorvilus amassed 62 yards in an Owl victory over the Aggies on Nov. 23. Photo by Max Jackson.

The Florida Atlantic University Owls (5-6) picked up an easy win against the New Mexico State University Aggies (1-10) in a game that the Owls led from start to finish — making this their third straight win.

A nine play, 91-yard drive culminated with a 26-yard end-around touchdown run by receiver Lucky Whitehead just under five minutes into the game.

The Owls forced an NMSU punt on the very next drive, which was blocked by linebacker Randell Johnson and recovered by running back Damian Fortner in the end zone. The recovery of the blocked punt is the first that has resulted in an FAU touchdown since 2001 and the first FAU special teams touchdown of any kind since 2003.

On the first play of the second quarter, Whitehead scored another touchdown — this time on a 64-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jaquez Johnson. The pass was his longest of the year, and FAU now found itself up 21-0.

“Good to see [Jaquez Johnson] step up with just a little bit of pressure and hit [Whitehead] down the middle of the field. It’s a play we’ve been working on for quite sometime,” Wright said.

With 3:27 remaining in the first half, a play set up on a 48-yard catch by wide receiver Daniel McKinney moved the Owls into NMSU territory. FAU widened their lead on the next drive after a 1-yard touchdown reception by tight end Nexon Dorvilus.

With just 31 seconds remaining in the half, NMSU scored on a 1-yard run by quarterback Andrew McDonald, making the score 28-7. McDonald finished the night with just 136 passing yards.

At the press conference following the game, the defensive personnel received high praise from Interim Head Coach Brian Wright.

“Just an overall great effort defensively. I was really happy with how they finished,” said Coach Wright.

Early in the second half, running back Jay Warren scored a 1-yard touchdown on an option run, his second of the season. The run put FAU up 35-7 with 12:20 to go in the third quarter. Warren finished with 63 yards on 14 carries.

A fumble forced by defensive end Cory Henry was recovered by FAU, and the resulting possession would end with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Jaquez Johnson to Dorvilus. The score was now 42-7 in favor of the Owls, and the touchdown was the second of the game for Dorvilus.

“Our gameplan was really to have a more balanced attack [than last week],” said the Miami-born Dorvilus, who would finish with 61 yards and two scores.

NMSU kicker Maxwell Johnson converted a 25-yard field goal that made the game 42-10. With 10:49 to go in the game, Fortner scored on a 26-yard scamper, bringing the FAU lead to 49-10.

Fortner had just one carry this season before the Nov. 2 game versus Tulane, but he has scored five touchdowns in the last three contests, capitalizing on an increased role within the team.

Coach Wright lauded the senior running back for his recent rushing success.

“I would give every bit of credit to [Fortner] for being resilient and for being a senior leader. When his number has been called, he has performed,” Wright said.

A touchdown by running back Tony Moore put the Owls up 55-10 and tied the all-time record for points scored in regulation by FAU in 2005. Mitch Anderson missed the extra point that would have set the new record.

With the Owls standing just one win away from bowl eligibility, Wright maintains that his staff is focusing only on the game ahead.

“We’re gonna control what we can control, so if I spent any time on that, I’d be cheating our players. All I can control is getting our team ready to play their best football,” Wright said.

The Owls have outscored their opponents 130-44 under the still-undefeated Wright, and on Nov. 29 they will play Florida International University, a team with only one win this season.