Football: Western Kentucky hands FAU its worst home loss in program history

The Owls haven’t won a conference game in 336 days.


Hilltoppers redshirt senior defensive back Branden Leston (31) tips a dropped pass intended for Owls junior wide receiver Nate Terry (80). Max Jackson | Staff Photographer

Hans Belot Jr., Contributing Writer

Florida Atlantic’s offense was never able to get going, the defense was unable to make stops, and that resulted in the Owls’ seventh straight loss of the year, 52-3 to Western Kentucky.

The Owls (1-7, 0-4 Conference USA) had 202 yards of total offense for the day. WKU dominated offensively, racking up 662 yards of offense.

WKU (6-3, 4-1 Conference USA) only needed three plays and 48 seconds to strike first, as a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mike White to Nicholas Norris put the Hilltoppers up 7-0.

They extended their lead with one minute remaining in the first quarter, when White once again connected on a deep touchdown pass, this one to Lucky Jackson for 54 yards to go up 14-0.

WKU continued with the deep ball attack, as White would connect with Taywan Taylor for a 65-yard bomb to put the Hilltoppers up 21-0. The three-play, 75-yard drive only lasted one minute and nine seconds.

The Hilltoppers finished the half with 360 total yards. On the other hand, FAU’s offense was unable to get going at all throughout the first, mustering a total of 84 yards.

“You have to give credit where credit is due,” said head coach Charlie Partridge. “The experience, the age, the development of the young guys. They’re very experienced, poised and explosive.”

Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White finished the day completing 13-of-21 passes, including three touchdowns and no interceptions.

White also did a great job of distributing the throws and the touchdown passes, as three of his receivers finished with at least 80 receiving yards.  

After WKU extended its lead 24-0 after a field goal, FAU caught a break on offense when Kylen Towner fumbled an FAU punt that set the Owls up at the Hilltoppers 9-yard line.

However, the Owls were unable to get the touchdown they desired and had to settle for a field goal with just six seconds left in the half to trim the deficit to 24-3.

“It was all the big plays,” sophomore linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair said. “It was literally three plays away from the score being 0-0 [at the end of the first quarter]. All three of those were explosive plays that we could of stopped if we were doing our job.”

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel, who was 6-for-15 for just 31 yards in the first half, was temporarily replaced by redshirt freshman Daniel Parr late in the first quarter. That appearance was short lived, as he went 3-for-5 for seven yards in just one series.

“Today, obviously I did not play well,” Driskel said. “Didn’t put the ball in the right spot for the guys, It was just inexcusable as a [Division I] quarterback, I got to do better.”

The Hilltoppers continued to dominate in the second half, as running back Anthony Wales — who was suspended for the first half of the game — scored on a 30-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 28.

Wales was not finished however, as he took the ball 11 yards on the Hilltoppers very next offensive series to score his second touchdown, completing a six-play, 80-yard drive that lasted only two minutes and 13 seconds.

WKU’s second-string quarterback Tyler Ferguson replaced White early in the fourth quarter. He joined in on the scoring when he connected with Stevie Donatell for a 9-yard touchdown pass.

The Hilltoppers completed their rout when third-string quarterback Drew Eckels connected with Quin Jernighan on a 3-yard pass with two minutes remaining in the game to extend the lead to 49 points.

Because of the offensive struggles, redshirt senior punter Dalton Schomp set a new career-high in punts today with 10. He also set a new FAU record with 466 punting yards in a game, breaking the previous of 462 set by Sean Kelly in 2013.

Driskel finished the game with 10-for-24 with just 52 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.

The Owls finished with 87 rushing yards, with freshman running back Devin Singletary leading the way with 37 yards on 11 carries.

It was a rough day for the Owls’ defense, who allowed 268 yards on the ground, including Wales’ 89 yards in just two quarters of game time.

Al-Shaair led the team with nine total tackles.

“We want to win and we expect to win,” Partridge said. “We’re fighting to do everything we can, we just have to stay the course, we got to have faith because these kids will get better.”

FAU will visit the Owls from Rice University next Saturday, Nov. 5, 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_.