Football: Owls fail to capitalize on chances, Miami pulls away in second half

For the second year in a row, the Hurricanes used a strong second half to ice the game.


Brandon Harrington

UM redshirt senior defensive back Rayshawn Jenkins (26) tries to tackle FAU redshirt junior wide receiver Kalib Woods (4). Brandon Harrington | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer


espite hanging around with the University of Miami in the first half, Florida Atlantic was not able to keep up in the second and dropped its first game of the season 38-10.

The Owls (1-1) entered the half trailing 14-3. The Hurricanes (2-0) then came out of the locker room storming and outscored the Owls 24-7 in the second half.

FAU’s defense was able to force several Miami errors in the first quarter — including an interception thrown by junior quarterback Brad Kaaya and a blocked field goal — but the other side of the ball was unable to take advantage.

The offense accumulated a total of 34 yards in the quarter, including -3 rushing yards as both teams entered the second quarter scoreless. The two teams combined for six penalties and just five first downs in the opening 15 minutes.

“There’s things we did at times that made us look like a program who’s continuing to go in the directions that we want to go,” said head coach Charlie Partridge. “But we’re clearly not there yet.”

Miami finally broke the deadlock in the second quarter when sophomore running back Mark Walton ran seven yards for a touchdown, capping a five play, 39-yard drive by the Hurricanes.

The Owls were able to get on the scoreboard after Kaaya threw his second interception of the game, this one grabbed by redshirt sophomore defensive back Andrew Soroh. They settled for a field goal after starting the possession at the 43-yard line on Miami’s half of the field.

Miami pushed its lead again after another Walton touchdown, this time a three-yard rush after an eight play, 75-yard drive immediately after FAU’s field goal.

The Owls had 90 seconds to answer before the half ended, but was not able to capitalize despite having all three of their timeouts.

FAU finished the first half with 85 total yards — just one via the rush. After picking up 89 yards on his first three carries of the year, Howell had just 16 rushing yards in the first half and finished the game as the Owls leading rusher with 75 yards.

“We just had to get certain fits,” said Howell after the game. “We got to come out hard and with a fight each and every single game and make a dent. We can’t let the defense make a dent on us.”

Miami began its second half by driving 65 yards downfield before extending its lead to 14 with a field goal. After redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel committed the Owls first turnover of the game by throwing an interception, the Hurricanes took advantage and Walton scored his third touchdown of the game.

Howell had the Owls first touchdown of the game when he broke free with four minutes to go in the third quarter, a 38-yard run to pull FAU back within two possessions, 24-10.

Walton put an end to any comeback hopes with a 30-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, capping off what could be the best game of his collegiate career. He finished with 155 yards on 17 carries, to go along with his four touchdown runs.

Junior running back Joseph Yearby capped off the win with a two-yard touchdown run. He finished the day with 121 rushing yards.

The Hurricanes out rushed the Owls 279-47 and finished the game with 470 total yards compared to FAU’s 214.

“The good news is these are very fixable things for a very young talented football team,” coach Partridge said. “I love the fact that I walked in the locker room and no one was content about the fact that we played Miami close for two and a half quarters. We came here to win.”

Driskel finished the game 18-for-36 with 167 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Kaaya started the game 1-for-7 before connecting on 16 of his last 24 pass attempts to finish with 191 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

“I feel like we left a lot out there for two halves,” said Driskel. “Thats a good defensive team we played out there but we left a lot out there. It came down to execution and we didn’t execute and that starts with me.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Kalib Woods finished the game with 121 yards on nine receptions.

Sophomore safety Jalen Young led the Owls with nine tackles. Senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson, Conference USA’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, finished with just one tackle and failed to register a sack for the first time since the team’s seventh game of a season ago.

FAU will travel to Kansas State to take on the Wildcats next Saturday, Sept. 17, at 2:30 p.m.

Hans Belot Jr. is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @Don_Phenom_.