Football: FAU suffers late loss against Ball State in game with four lightning delays

The Owls scored seven more points in the first half (24) than they did in the two previous games combined (17).


An upset Charlie Partridge puts his hands on his hips in the Owls 31-27 loss to Ball State on Sept. 24. Mohammed F. Emran | Staff Photographer

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

After coming out on top on two fourth-down attempts earlier in the game — a defensive stop and an offensive conversion which led to the game’s first touchdown — Florida Atlantic head coach Charlie Partridge sent his offense back onto the field at the Ball State 30-yard line, leading by three points with 6:10 remaining in the game.

Junior running back Greg Howell received the handoff, but came up short as Ball State won the fourth-down battle for the first time all night. It turned out to be the only one the Cardinals needed.

“I was confident, we had an opportunity … Ball State had a young man get hurt after the third down so we had a chance going into the fourth down,” Partridge said. “[I] felt like we had a really good play called, one of their guys ended up getting over top of the block and getting the stop … if we get that we probably ice the game.”

Following the change of possession, quarterback Riley Neal capped off a 10-play, 70-yard drive with a 2-yard keeper to capture a 31-27 lead from FAU.

The Owls (1-3) got the ball back with 1:47 left in the game and all three timeouts. They lost a yard on a completion, threw an incomplete pass, took a sack and then threw an interception, ending any chance for a comeback.

“I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t give the guys a chance to do what they do best and that’s make plays,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel said about his performance during his team’s final possession. “As a quarterback in the two-minute drill, you got to be at your best and I wasn’t tonight.”

Although Driskel was unable to lead the Owls down the field to answer Ball State’s touchdown, he managed to put his four-turnover performance and the team’s 56-point defeat from a week ago in the rearview mirror and came out slinging.

On the Owls first play of their second possession of the game — which started after redshirt sophomore safety Andrew Soroh’s second interception of the season — Driskel found his go-to wide receiver, redshirt junior Kalib Woods, 46 yards down the middle of the field.

Faced with a third-and-10 situation later in the drive, a poised Driskel stood in the pocket and found tight end Tyler Cameron, who carried three defenders on his way to a first down. Two plays later, the quarterback finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.

On the Owls next drive, Driskel led his offense down the field and reconnected with Woods for a 31-yard touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, the duo hooked up once more — a 24-yard pass down the right sideline, setting up a then-go-ahead field goal with 9:18 remaining in the game.

“Kalib’s playing at a high level … Driskel did a lot of things with a lot of confidence,” Partridge said. “I think Kalib has a lot of trust from Driskel and that’s why when the read goes to Kalib, if [Driskel] thinks he has a shot to get it there he’s going to take that shot to Kalib, and it’s fun to see that connection grow.”

Redshirt freshman running back Kerrith Whyte scored his first collegiate touchdown and redshirt junior Greg Joseph nailed a field goal to give FAU 24 points entering the half — seven more points than the Owls scored in the two previous games combined.

Unlike the offense, FAU’s defense was unable to stop its current skid as it allowed at least 30 points for the fourth straight game to start this season.

“There was some things they did well, some things that we’ll improve on, so [I’m] not going to compare it to last week,” Partridge said. “We got some good stops, but didn’t get a stop when we needed it there in the fourth quarter.”

The Owls will have one week to regroup before heading down to Miami to take on the Florida International Golden Panthers.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.