FAU defense dominates in a 28-13 win over Middle Tennessee

Malcolm Davidson’s 149 yards and one touchdown helped move the Owls to 2-0 in C-USA play.

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FAU defense dominates in a 28-13 win over Middle Tennessee

FAU played efficiently with their rushing attack led by Malcolm Davidson as he ran for 149 yards and a touchdown. Photo by: Alex Liscio

FAU played efficiently with their rushing attack led by Malcolm Davidson as he ran for 149 yards and a touchdown. Photo by: Alex Liscio

FAU played efficiently with their rushing attack led by Malcolm Davidson as he ran for 149 yards and a touchdown. Photo by: Alex Liscio

FAU played efficiently with their rushing attack led by Malcolm Davidson as he ran for 149 yards and a touchdown. Photo by: Alex Liscio

Jensen Jennings, Contributing Writer

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The FAU Owls notched their second win in Conference USA play on Saturday, defeating Middle Tennessee 28-13. 

Running back Malcolm Davidson had a great day on the ground, carrying the ball 21 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. Davidson is the first Owl to rush for over 100-yards on the season. 

Middle Tennessee scored first in the first quarter. The Blue Raiders went on an eight play 88-yard drive on their second possession of the game. The drive was capped off on a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Asher O’Hara to wide receiver CJ Windham. 

Linebacker Akileis Leroy blocked the ensuing extra point attempt and returned it all the way to the end zone to make the score 6-2. Leroy’s return was the first blocked kick return for the Owls since the 2008 season against North Texas. 

“I didn’t even expect the ball to come back to me,” said Leroy. “I scooped it and was just, like, ‘Run for your life.’” 

The Owls took their first lead of the game after scoring on their first drive of the second quarter. Quarterback Chris Robison hit tight end Harrison Bryant for a 25-yard gain which got the Owls down to the four-yard line. Two plays later, Robison connected with wide receiver John Mitchell for the four-yard score to put the Owls on top 9-6.

Middle Tennessee regained the lead on their next possession thanks to a 31-yard pass from O’Hara to wide receiver Yusuf Ali, which moved the ball to the FAU nine-yard line. O’Hara was able to run it in on the next play to give Middle Tennessee a 13-9 lead. 

On the next possession, FAU kicker Vladimir Rivas split the up-rights with a 37-yard field goal to make the score 13-12 Middle Tennessee shortly before the half. 

The Owls re-gained the lead for good on their first possession of the second half after Rivas made his second field goal on the day from 26-yards out. This gave FAU a 15-13 lead. 

FAU’s defense stifled the Blue Raiders offense the entire second half. The Owls forced two punts, a turnover on downs, two takeaways, a missed field goal and a kneel-down on Middle Tennessee’s seven possessions in the second half. 

FAU quarterback Nick Tronti checked in for Robison on the third possession of the second half and led a quick three play 68-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 57-yard rushing touchdown by Davidson, extending the Owls lead to 22-13. 

“Just felt like [Tronti] would give us a little spark right there,” said head coach Lane Kiffin. 

Tronti stayed in for FAU’s next possession and picked up a big fourth and one on their own 30-yard line, connecting with Bryant for a 16-yard completion. The Owls punted three plays later but were able to flip the field position. 

Running back Larry McCammon III scored FAU’s final touchdown of the game on a one-yard plunge into the endzone. Rivas’s extra point was blocked, giving the Owls a 28-13 lead.  

Robison had a tough time getting anything going in the passing game, completing 15-30 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown. 

Bryant led the team in receiving with four catches for 68-yards. Mitchell also added two catches for 34-yards and one touchdown.

“The numbers aren’t pretty, it wasn’t a pretty game,” said Kiffin. “There are some numbers in there: no turnovers, no sacks, 8 of 17 on third downs and one for one on fourth down.” 

Defensive back Meiko Dotson had two interceptions in the endzone, both for touchbacks. This is Dotson’s second week in a row with two interceptions. Linebacker Rashad Smith also recorded his second interception of the season. 

There were also three NFL stars in attendance: Ray Lewis, Terrell Owens and current Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore. 

With the win, FAU is off to its best start since 2004 when they started the season 5-1. 

The Owls will have a short week to prepare for their homecoming game on Oct. 18, when they will host the Marshall Thundering Herd (3-3, 1-1 C-USA) at 6:30 p.m. 

Jensen Jennings is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Jensen_Jennings.