Football: Offensive explosion leads Owls to victory in season opener

FAU used a strong third quarter to pull away after a sluggish first half.


Max Jackson

Graduate student Tyler Cameron stretches the ball into the end zone for the first receiving touchdown of his collegiate career. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Christopher Libreros, Contributing Writer


he Florida Atlantic Owls started the 2016 college football season on the right foot as they defeated the Southern Illinois University Salukis 38-30 in the season opener at home.

The victory marks FAU’s first win on opening night since 2012, when the team defeated Wagner College 7-3.

In the opening moments of the game, FAU (1-0) came out aggressively, holding SIU (0-1) to three plays in its first drive of the season, including two tackles for a loss of yards. The offense quickly followed up with a 48-yard rushing touchdown from junior running back Gregory Howell in the Owls’ second play from scrimmage.

Howell finished the game with two touchdowns on 16 carries for a total of 128 yards.

“When we execute, [the defense] can’t stop us,” Howell said after the game. “We’re the only one’s that can stop us.”

The first half concluded with an 85-yard touchdown catch from redshirt freshman wide receiver Tavaris Harrison — after it deflected off of a teammate and two opponents — to put the Owls up by four with 32 seconds left in the half. SIU wasted no time in responding with a touchdown of its own just before the first half ended to reclaim a three-point advantage.

In the second half, FAU came out of the locker rooms reinvigorated for a third quarter that swayed the momentum in its favor. The Owls controlled the game on both sides of the football, traveling the length of the field for two touchdown drives, while holding the Salukis to 21 total yards in the quarter.

In his first game as offensive coordinator, Travis Trickett’s fast-paced, no-huddle offense scored 38 points. In comparison, FAU’s offense last year managed to reach the 30-point mark three times all season.

“Our offense showed signs of explosion,” Partridge said.  “We saw the potential in all three phases.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel made plays with both his arm and legs after a slow start in the first half, completing 12 of his first 13 second half passes for 134 yards. He finished with three touchdowns including a two-yard rushing touchdown.

After allowing 24 points in the first half, senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson and the FAU defense held SIU to six points in the second half. Hendrickson finished with five tackles and blocked a field goal attempt.

Sophomore linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair finished with a team high of 10 tackles.

FAU will look to ride this momentum into Miami when the team visits the Hurricanes (1-0) on Saturday, Sept. 10, at 6:00 p.m.

Christopher Libreros is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @ChrisIsAirborne.