Football: Owls hold on to take 33-31 win at Old Dominion

Late comeback attempt not enough for Monarchs in season finale

Senior+safety+Sharrod+Neasman+%2829%29+tackles+Florida+Gators%E2%80%99+wide+receiver+Antonio+Callaway+%2881%29+during+last+week%E2%80%99s+20-14+loss+in+Gainesville%2C+FL.+Mohammed+Emran+%7C+Asst.+Creative+Director

Senior safety Sharrod Neasman (29) tackles Florida Gators’ wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) during last week’s 20-14 loss in Gainesville, FL. Mohammed Emran | Asst. Creative Director

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic football finished the season on a positive note Saturday, defeating the Old Dominion Monarchs to eliminate them from bowl eligibility.

FAU (3-9, 3-6 C-USA) eclipsed the 400-yard mark for the first time this season, outgaining Old Dominion (4-6, 3-5 Conference USA) 436 to 325 in total yards.

The Owls finished the game with 248 rushing yards, also a season high. Junior running back Jay Warren led the team with 150 rushing yards to go with one touchdown on 29 carries.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Driskel was tasked with leading the offense after redshirt senior Jaquez Johnson was benched midway through the third quarter after his second interception of the game. Driskel finished the game 7-for-14 for 100 yards of passing and did not have a single turnover.

Despite the Owls holding the Monarchs to 38 rushing yards overall, the Monarchs found success in their passing game. Quarterback Shuler Bentley threw for a career-high 287 yards for three pass touchdowns.

Bentley’s late performance could not get his team back the lead, as he could not complete his last pass attempt to wide receiver Jonathan Duhart on fourth down with one minute left.

The Owls started the game by scoring two touchdowns in the first quarter and held the Monarchs to a field goal during that span to lead 14-3.

After junior kicker Greg Joseph made a field goal halfway through the second quarter, the Owls extended the lead again after Jaquez Johnson had a 1-yard touchdown run.

The Monarchs finished the half by driving 75 yards down the field in 43 seconds, which ended in a pass touchdown from Bentley to wide receiver Zach Pascal. This cut the Owls’ lead to 24-10 heading into halftime.

Pascal saw plenty of action for the Monarchs, catching eight receptions for 163 yards and three touchdowns. The junior came to the game averaging only five receptions and 69 yards per game.

The Owls had outgained the Monarchs 243-129 in the first half, with Warren leading the way with 75 rushing yards. Old Dominion was held to only 13 rushing yards in the first two quarters, the lowest total for any Owls opponent this season.

FAU’s season-long struggles in the second half would later give them problems. The Owls were outscored 21-3 in the third quarter, with Bentley connecting with Pascal on two of those touchdowns through the air while rushing for the other one.

The Owls cut the lead down to one point after a 48-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and regained possession at the Old Dominion’s 21-yard yard line after a strip-sack by Junior Trey Hendrickson. Hendrickson, who also recovered the ball, had four sacks on the day to set the career program record at 20.

FAU once again ends the season 3-9, bringing head football coach Charlie Partridge’s record to 6-18, second in all-time program wins to Howard Schnellenberger.

The win marked the second time the Owls have won their season finale in the last five seasons, with the previous one a 21-6 win over Florida International in 2013.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, email him at [email protected]