Football: Defensive stops force overtime, but Owls fall to Florida 20-14

No. 8 Gators held scoreless until second half


Mohammed F Emran

Owls’ sophomore running back Greg “Buddy” Howell (9) rushes up the middle for 9 yards while avoiding a Gator defender.

Ryan Lynch, Sports Editor

Florida Atlantic took the no. 8 ranked Florida Gators to overtime in Gainesville, but were unable to complete the upset against their heavily favored opponent, dropping their third straight game 20-14.

After a 13-yard receiving touchdown by tight end Jake McGee to start the overtime period, the Owls drove to the Gators’ 12 yard line in position to win the game.

Redshirt senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson targeted both Nate Terry and Jenson Stoshak in the endzone during the final possession, but the fifth best defense in the nation held the Owls short.

“We were inches away from a touchdown that could have won the game,” head coach Charlie Partridge said of the final drive of the game.

FAU’s (2-10, 2-5 C-USA) defense held the Gators scoreless during the first half and allowed them to gain only 69 total yards. The only scoring attempt the Owls surrendered was a 33-yard field goal attempt that hit the left upright with in the second quarter.

The Gators (10-1, 7-1 SEC) rebounded in the second half to finish the game with 252 yards of offense while scoring three times. Much of their offense came from quarterback Treon Harris, who threw for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Bringing pressure to Harris, the Owls recorded five sacks during the game, including two by junior defensive end Trey Hendrickson. FAU’s defense registered 10 tackles for a loss during the game, racking up over 41 yards of losses.

Turnovers were a major reason the Owls stayed in the game. For the second week in a row, senior safety Sharrod Neasman recorded an interception, picking off backup quarterback Josh Grady in the Owls’ end zone at the 13:36 mark of the fourth quarter.

“The play presented itself and and I made it, the d-line really helped in making that play possible with their pressure.” Neasman said of the pick.

The Owls recorded 292 yards of total offense. Those yards did not transfer to scores however, as the Owls found the endzone only once on offense on a 10 yard pass from Johnson to sophomore receiver Kalib Woods with 2:06 left in the third quarter.

“We tied it up against a good defense that’s top five in about every category you can think of, had a chuckle about that in the staff meeting this morning,” Partridge said. “We put ourselves in a position to win.”

Redshirt freshman Jason Driskel came in for the second drive of the game, receiving the opportunity to play on the same field as his brother Jeff used to.

The elder Driskel, who is now the starting quarterback for Louisiana Tech, threw for 3,411 yards of passing and 42 touchdowns in four seasons with the Gators.

“I knew coming into it he’d be able to handle it,” Partridge said of putting Driskel in. “I talked to him about it on Monday, I knew it would be a big moment for him and his family.”

Driskel re-entered the game in the third quarter, where he would lead the team to two straight first downs before a sack and fumble led to the Gators’ first score of the game. He finished with 11 yards of passing on 3-of-6 attempts.

The defeat is FAU’s second in overtime, with their first coming during a 47-44 season-opening loss to Tulsa on Sept. 5.

FAU will face the Old Dominion Monarchs on Nov. 28, their final game of the season. The trip is their first ever to face ODU at home.  

Video by Emily Creighton | Features Editor
Ryan Lynch is the Sports editor of the University Press. For tips regarding this or other articles, he can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter.