Football: FAU defeats Akron 50-3 in Boca Raton Bowl for first bowl win since 2008

The program is now 3-0 all time in bowl games


FAU head coach Lane Kiffin is handed the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl trophy during the trophy ceremony after FAU’s 50-3 victory Saturday night. Alexander Rodriguez | Features Editor

Matt Brown, Contributing Writer

With a 50-3 victory over Akron, FAU has won its third bowl game in school history and first since 2008. The team is now 3-0 all time in bowl games.

After graduate student kicker Greg Joseph missed a 44-yard field goal on the team’s first drive, the Owls (11-3, 8-0 C-USA) scored touchdowns on their next five drives to take a commanding 36-3 lead.

The Zips (7-7, 6-2 MAC) put their only points of the game up in the first half, a 19 yard field goal by kicker Nick Gasser. The chance came only after a failed onside kick attempt by the Owls allowed them to start the drive at the FAU 44-yard line.

They end their season on a two-game losing streak. The Zips are now 1-2 all time in bowl games.

The Owls finish the season on a 10 game win streak, a program best in the FBS and their best since also winning 10 straight in 2003 when the team was a part of Division I-AA.

The winning streak is second best in the nation behind the 12-0 UCF Knights. The Owls offense has scored over 30 points for their 12th straight game, which is currently tied with UCF, who have yet to play their bowl game.

“We are sitting here one year and one week ago,(since Kiffin signed his initial contract)” FAU Football head coach Lane Kiffin said. “I don’t think anybody believed that except maybe me. It’s awesome to see and (I’m) proud for these players.”

The 47 point margin of victory is FAU’s highest since becoming an FBS program in 2004.                                                  

Redshirt junior quarterback Jason Driskel was 12-of-13 for 152 yards and one touchdown in the first half. He finished the game 18-of-24 for 270 yards, his second highest of the season, and two touchdowns.     

He has thrown for at least one touchdown in the last five games and seven of the last eight. He also threw for over 200 yards for the fifth straight game.  

He also had 67 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, his first in the last five games.

“We have a group of unordinary guys that put in a lot of hard work and a lot of time,” Driskel said. “I am just really proud of all the guys.”

After being held to just 37 rushing yards on 13 attempts in the first half, sophomore running back Devin Singletary ran for 87 yards in the second half. He finished the game with 124 rushing yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns.

He extended his FBS rushing touchdown lead to 32 overall.

“This many touchdowns I don’t know if I saw that coming,” Singletary said on if he expected to score this many touchdowns this season. “All we preach is trying to be the top in rushing yards, so big shoutout to the O-Line for that one.”       

His 32 rushing and 33 overall touchdowns are both C-USA single season records. He is third among all players in FBS single season history with his 32 rushing touchdowns.

He is only the fifth player in FBS history to run for over 30 touchdowns in a single season. His 32 this season is the most since Wisconsin’s Montee Ball ran for 33 back in 2011.  

He has run for two or more touchdowns in the past five games and ten of the past eleven. He ran for over 100 yards for his 12th straight game.

Freshman wide receiver Willie Wright had seven catches for 71 yards and a career-high two receiving touchdowns.  

Junior linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair had a team-high 13 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. He also had a sack.

He now has 354 total tackles in his career, which is the most in FAU history, surpassing Frantz Joseph who had 346 from 2006 to 2008.

“You look at all of the success we have had individually, we never thought about ourselves as individuals,” Al-Shaair said. “It’s always been about the team and that’s unique when you got guys… who talk about themselves and that is rare…Seeing everybody that cares about each other more than themselves and not being so selfish is special. You don’t get that a lot.”

Sophomore linebacker Rashad Smith had a team-high seven unassisted tackles. He had 10 total along with 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Kiffin has his most wins as a head coach with 11. His previous high was 10, back in 2011 in his second season at USC.

Akron quarterback Kato Nelson was 9-of-15 for 80 yards. He also had 21 rushing yards. He failed to throw a touchdown pass for his first time as a starter.

Running back Manny Morgan ran for a team-high 41 yards on 17 carries. Wide receiver A.J. Coney had two receptions for a team-high 28 yards.  

Akron was held to its lowest scoring output since being shutout 52-0 in its season opening loss on Sept. 2 against Penn State. This is also the first time they failed to score a touchdown since that loss.

The defense held the Zips to their second lowest points of the season and lowest since holding Bethune-Cookman scoreless in their first win on Sept.16.

“Our defense played really good against a tough quarterback to play,” Kiffin said. “We gave 146 yards in the game…our guys really played.  [They] came out which is good to see because you don’t want to have a good first half and come out and have a sloppy second half. They played their last half together…They dominated the second half.”

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