Football: FAU’s season-ending loss to Middle Tennessee reflective of entire season

The team fought back from a 28-point deficit, but still lost by three possessions.


Brandon Harrington

Junior running back Gregory Howell ran for 51 yards and scored a touchdown in the Owls loss at Middle Tennessee. Brandon Harrington | Staff Photographer

Brendan Feeney, Sports Editor

For the third straight year, Florida Atlantic football head coach Charlie Partridge and his team finish the season with a record of 3-9.

The final game, a 77-56 loss to Middle Tennessee on Saturday, was a microcosm of the Owls entire season.

Bad start

After beating Football Championship Subdivision’s Southern Illinois in the team’s first game of the season, Florida Atlantic embarked on a journey which was highlighted by seven straight losses. Its biggest struggle was felt in the defensive-run game, which was the worst in the conference entering Saturday’s game.

Once again, the Owls struggled to get off to a good start again and were hurt most in the run game.

Middle Tennessee jumped out to a 28-7 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter. Three of those touchdowns came from Richie James, who did just about everything for the Blue Raiders.

James ran for 207 yards and three touchdowns, completed five passes for 76 yards and also collected a game-high 120 receiving yards and a touchdown.

James’ 207 rushing yards didn’t lead his team however, as I’Tavius Mathers pounded the Owls rushing defense with 213 yards and three touchdowns.

For the game, FAU allowed 495 total rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns.

Finding a rhythm

Western Kentucky’s 52-3 win at FAU — the Owls largest margin of defeat at home in program history and second largest of the season — is sandwiched between four one-possession losses and two victories.

Freshman running back Devin Singletary is responsible for a lot of the success the team had. In the two wins, he had 397 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

On Saturday, after facing a 28-point deficit in the third quarter, FAU scored three consecutive touchdowns to cut the Middle Tennessee lead to seven, 49-42.

Singletary once again played a huge role for the Owls. He recorded 235 yards on the ground, 60 through the air and three touchdowns.

In the Owls 21-point run, redshirt sophomore quarterback Jason Driskel scored two touchdowns — one with his feet and one with his arm. He threw for a total of 291 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in the game.

Not able to get over the hump

After the two wins, FAU hosted conference-leading Old Dominion and jumped out to an early 21-10 lead. However, the feel-good moment of the year ended and the Monarchs outscored the Owls 29-3 in the second half, which stopped any momentum the team had and diminished the team’s chances of collecting four victories in a season for the first time since 2013.

Again on Saturday, no matter how close the Owls were to tying the game, they couldn’t take the next step. Middle Tennessee scored four touchdowns in less than five minutes, beginning from the 10:30 mark and wrapping up with an interception return touchdown with 5:40 left in the game.

Over the course of the entire game, FAU allowed 757 yards to go along with Middle Tennessee’s 77 points. The Owls managed to record 589 total yard.

Brendan Feeney is the sports editor of the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @feeney42.