FAU Football soundly defeats Tulsa in home opener


Michelle Friswell

D’Joun Smith returned an interception for a TD in the first quarter. He gave credit to teammate Sherrod Neaseman, who deflected the ball up into the air before Smith grabbed it. Photo by Michelle Friswell

After two blowout losses to begin the season, head football coach Charlie Partridge finally experienced what it feels like to have the better team. His Owls (1-2) defeated the University of Tulsa 50-14 in the FAU home opener on Sept. 13.

A 21-yard field goal by starting kicker Greg Joseph broke the 0-0 tie. Following a receiving touchdown by William Dukes (the longest completion of quarterback Jaquez Johnson’s career) and an interception return by cornerback D’Joun Smith, FAU led 17-0 after one full quarter.

“Last week [Tulsa] played Tulane, they were down 21-0, and they came back and won,” Johnson said in a press conference following the game. “We had momentum and we wanted to put them away quick.”

Smith and his cohorts held Tulsa (1-2) to just 33 yards of total offense in the first quarter and the Golden Hurricane accrued most of their yards when the game was out of reach.

Tasked with covering Tulsa’s best receiver, Smith was an integral part of stifling the Tulsa offensive unit. He realized the importance of what the first win could mean for the rest of the year.

“I think this was an all-or-nothing game,” Smith said.

Tulsa scored their first touchdown on a 9-yard pass from Dane Evans to wide receiver Conner Floyd with 10:35 left in first half. FAU scored on the ensuing drive, spurred on by a 32-yard return by wide receiver Lucky Whitehead and a 33-yard run by running back Jay Warren.

“[Jay] continues to impress,” Patridge said. “We will continue to feed him the ball as long as he is producing.”

The Owls widened their lead with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to tight end Alex Deleon. On the first play of the next Tulsa drive, defensive linemen Brandin Bryant and Robison Eugene forced a safety, making the score 26-7 in their favor.

After two more touchdowns — a 59-yard pass to Jenson Stoshak, and a 5-yard run — Johnson’s day came to an end. He finished with 15-20 for 318 yards on the day. Stoshak’s 155 receiving yards are a personal record.

“You can almost feel his leadership,” Partridge said of his starting quarterback. “If there is a mistake in a formation, he can correct it. He is in a very good place right now.”

Next week, the Owls take on the University of Wyoming in their third away game of the season. Partridge — who changed into bright red pants at halftime because the student section was close to capacity — said that his team will start preparing tomorrow.