Football: FAU loses to FIU for the the fourth time in the last six years

The puzzle is there, but the Owls can't seem to put the pieces together as they pick up their fourth straight loss.

FIU+players+raise+the+Shula+Bowl+trophy+without+the+FAU+helmet+attatched+following+the+Golden+Panthers+33-31+victory+over+the+Owls.+Max+Jackson+%7C+Staff+Photographer

Max Jackson

FIU players raise the Shula Bowl trophy without the FAU helmet attatched following the Golden Panthers 33-31 victory over the Owls. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic sophomore linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair intercepted FIU quarterback Alex McGough and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter.

The Owls three-point halftime lead was extended to 10, and it seemed as FAU had all the momentum to finish the game — until they didn’t.

FIU (1-4, 1-0 Conference USA) went on to score two touchdowns in a span of three minutes, took away all of FAU’s momentum and carried it to a 33-31 win.

For the second game in a row, the Owls held a second half lead but were unable to ride it to a victory, dropping the Owls to 1-4 on the season and 0-1 to start conference play.

“We aren’t losers,” senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson said after the game. “Our record isn’t showing that.”

Both teams began the game by scoring a touchdown on their initial, respective drive. Junior running back Greg Howell took his first handoff 68 yards run for a touchdown.

FIU responded right away with a 17-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alex McGough, ending a 12-play, 75-yard drive.

The Panthers took their first lead of the game in the second quarter, when McGough rushed 35 yards for a touchdown.

The Owls had an answer as well. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel connected with redshirt junior running back Marcus Clark for a nine-yard touchdown, which ended a 76-yard drive and tied the score at 14.

On the ensuing FIU drive, sophomore safety Jalen Young had his first interception of the season, setting up a career-high, 50-yard field goal from redshirt junior Greg Joseph that gave the Owls a 17-14 halftime lead.

After failing to register a 100-yard rushing game since the season opener — when he rushed for 128 yards versus Southern Illinois — Howell finished the game with 106 rushing yards, all of which came in the first half. His touchdown marked his fifth of the season.

However, Howell committed a key turnover early in the third quarter, setting up FIU at the Owls 26-yard line. McGough capitalized with a touchdown pass to Thomas Owens.

“There’s nothing I can say about it,” said Howell of the fumble. “I just got to hold the ball tighter, I can’t let nobody take it away from me. That’s all on me.”

Freshman running back Devin Singletary was able to help the Owls answer once again. After marching 68 yards downfield, he took a carry one yard for his first career touchdown to regain the lead 31-27.

Singletary finished the game with 86 yards on 17 carries, besting his career high which he previously set in the loss at Kansas State.

It would be the last time FAU would lead, as the Panthers converted on two field goals, including the game winner with 14:20 remaining in the game.

Driskel finished the game throwing 9-for-20 with 92 yards and a touchdown, but failed to continue his connection with redshirt junior receiver Kalib Woods, who finished with just two receptions for 20 yards.

Young led the Owls defense with 14 tackles, and sophomore linebacker Al-Shaair added 12 of his own.

“[Our] guys played well at times, but not well enough to finish the game,” said head coach Charlie Partridge. “So we have to get back to work on some things that didn’t work for us tonight.”

FAU’s defense entered the game allowing more thank 30 points in every game this season,. That streak was extended by an FIU offense that had yet to score more than 14 points this season — which was the worst in the country.

Despite the loss, FAU still holds a winning record over the Panthers, leading the all-time series 10-5.

FAU will host Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 8, at FAU Stadium. The game is set to kick off at 3:30 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_.