Football: Florida Atlantic goes down to the wire against Charlotte, but falls short for fifth straight defeat

The team appeared to win with a Hail Mary as time expired, but the catch was overturned by replay.

Junior+wide+receiver+Kamrin+Solomon+catches+a+Hail+Mary+during+the+game%27s+final+seconds+which+would+have+given+FAU+the+win.+The+play+was+overturned+after+a+replay+review.+Max+Jackson+%7C+Staff+Photographer

Junior wide receiver Kamrin Solomon catches a Hail Mary during the game's final seconds which would have given FAU the win. The play was overturned after a replay review. Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Jordon Edwards, Contributing Writer

The Florida Atlantic University Owls looked for just their second win of the season and their first win in the conference against the Charlotte 49ers (2-4, 1-1). Originally scheduled for Saturday, the game was postponed to Sunday afternoon due to weather conditions surrounding South Florida throughout the weekend.

The game would turn out to be a nail-biter toward the end with many in debate about the final results. Nonetheless, when the game was over the Owls received their fifth-consecutive loss and second consecutive conference loss 28-23.

Senior defensive end Trey Hendrickson recovered a fumble with 40 seconds left in the game as the 49ers were attempting to run out the clock on the Owls.

After clutch catches by junior wide receivers Kalib Woods and Nate Terry the Owls would set up for a Hail-Mary pass in the game’s final seconds. At first sight it seemed that the pass from redshirt sophomore Jason Driskel to junior Kamrin Solomon was complete, but after a booth review the touchdown would be overturned to an incomplete pass to end the game.

“I am proud of how hard the kids fought, but we came for a win,” said head coach Charlie Partridge. “We have to fight for one mission at a time, and stick together.”

Approaching the game, the Owls (1-5, 0-2 Conference USA) were hoping to shift their season toward a positive direction. The game would be a dogfight being that both teams came into the matchup with no conference wins.

The Owls would jump out to a quick start driving down the field on 11 plays for 59 yards with a 33-yard field goal. FAU’s defense would also start their first possession forcing a three-and-out.

However, the game would take a momentum swing in the 49ers favor on their second drive as Charlotte quarterback Hasaan Klugh led an 8-play 77-yard drive capped off with a quarterback keeper from two yards in the red zone.

Gregory Howell would reach the end zone three times against the 49ers. He is the first owl running back to achieve this since Alfred Morris ran for four on Nov. 26, 2011.

The junior just needed one to give him 10 in his career. He became just the fifth Owl to move into the double-digit category of career rushing touchdowns — he now has 12.

The Owls displayed with their play calls that they wanted a win desperately. After the first touchdown run by Howell, Partridge went into his bag of tricks as the Owls called an onside-kick which would be recovered by redshirt freshman receiver Tavaris Harrison.

It would lead to just another three-and-out by the Owls, who failed to pick up a first down in five of their 13 drives.

The Owls would then give up a 69-yard touchdown pass from Klugh to Austin Duke with less than two minutes to go in the half. This is the fifth time the Owls have given up a touchdown with less than two minutes remaining in the half.

After a 21-17 lead by the 49ers at the end of the half, the two teams would trade touchdowns again throughout the third and and fourth quarters. The Owls would attempt a two-point conversion after Howell’s third touchdown, but did not convert.

The failed conversion took the Owls away from just needing a field goal to tie in their final drive, as being down five meant they would need a touchdown to win the game. This would come back to hurt the owls in the final seconds as they were forced to throw the Hail Mary.

The loss is now the fifth consecutive for the Owls, however they are still in high spirits and expect to come out strong against another conference foe next weekend, the Marshall Thundering Herd who are 3-0 all-time against FAU.

“We have to keep working, and keep our heads up,” said Woods, who reached over 100 yards for the third time this season and will look to continue his great season at Marshall.

Howell, who had a career day running the ball, had little to rejoice about.

“Stats are stats, but a victory is what matters,” said Howell who also reached 100 yards on the ground today for a third time this season.

The Owls will go on the road to face Marshall in another conference battle next Saturday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in Huntington, West Virginia.

Jordon Edwards is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him at @koolkidklassic.