Football: Owls earn 11th Shula Bowl Victory 52-24 over Florida International

Jason Driskel threw a career high four touchdowns as team clinches spot in Conference USA Championship


FAU football players carry the Don Shula Award back into the locker rooms after celebrating with fans on the field. Alexander Rodriguez | Photo Editor

Matt Brown, Contributing Writer

Smoke filled the air in the student section as fans spilled onto the field to celebrate with the Florida Atlantic football team. They had brought the Shula Bowl trophy back to Boca Raton with a 52-24 win over Florida International.

The Owls (8-3, 7-0 C-USA) have now won a school record seven straight games as an FBS program. The Panthers (6-4, 4-3) lose their second straight game for the first time all season. FAU now leads the overall series 11-5.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jason Driskel got the Owls offense started early. On the opening drive, he was 5-of-5 for 51 yards.

He capped it off with a 13-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Harrison Bryant to give the team a 7-0 lead, which they did not give up. He finished the game on 18-of-25 passing with 239 yards and a career-high four passing touchdowns.

FAU head football coach Lane Kiffin believed redshirt senior wide receiver Kalib Woods “had a different look in his eyes tonight” and “would have a special night.”

Woods proved him right. It all started with 11:30 left in the third quarter when he had a career long 79-yard touchdown reception. This paved the way for a career day, as he finished the game with 172 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns, both career highs.

Coming into this game, sophomore running back Devin Singletary had run for over 100 yards for eight straight games. He had 104 rushing yards by the end of the first quarter, including a career-long 70-yard rushing touchdown. He finished the game with 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns.  

He now has the most cumulative rushing yards in a season in FAU history with 1,524 passing the previous mark of 1,390 set by Alfred Morris in 2009.

“It hasn’t hit me yet that we will play in the championship game.” Singletary said. “It might hit me the day of, but not yet.”

The Owls have now scored over 30 points for nine straight games which is tied for the most in the FBS with undefeated and 15th ranked UCF Knights.

The Owls defense held the Panthers to just 85 rushing yards and an average of 2.7 yards per rush. They were led by junior linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair who finished with a game high 14 tackles.

Sophomore linebacker Rashad Smith had eight tackles, including three sacks.

With this win, the Owls have now tied their most wins since 2007 when the team finished 8-5 and won the New Orleans Bowl.

Kiffin now has tied his second-most wins in a season as as a head coach and had his best record since finishing 10-2 in his second year at USC in 2011.

The Owls will now host the Conference USA Championship game on Dec. 2 against North Texas. The Owls previously played the Mean Green this season back on homecoming weekend on Oct.21, in a 69-31 victory in the highest scoring output in FAU history.

“Twelve months ago, who would have thought that we would be here.” Driskel said. “It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of effort. I’m really proud of the team.”

The Owls travel to Charlotte to finish the regular season on Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. The two teams are tied 1-1 all time in two meetings.

Video Highlight Package Courtesy of Owl TV

Matt Brown is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @mattyb407.