After a 5-1 start to the season, FAU (5-3 overall, 4-2 C-USA) ends the season in disappointment after losing to Southern Miss (3-7 overall, 2-4 C-USA) 45-31 in the final game of the regular season.
Head coach Willie Taggart gave junior quarterback Nick Tronti the start after freshman Javion Posey started the last three games.
FAU started the game off with a bang after junior linebacker Ahman Ross forced a fumble which eventually led to a Tronti touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Brandon Robinson.
Robinson has had an incredibly efficient season. Coming into the game, Robinson had three catches and two touchdowns. He finished the game as the leading receiver for the Owls with five catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Southern Miss came right back and tied the game after a 73-yard touchdown run from former FAU commit freshman running back Frank Gore Jr.
The game remained a stalemate up until the third quarter. From there, FAU began to let the game slip away from them.
Southern Miss quarterback sophomore Trey Lowe came into the game with 224 yards passing, two interceptions, and zero touchdowns. He ended up having the best game of his young career against FAU, completing 13 out of his 19 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 70 yards and a touchdown.
FAU currently has the third-ranked defense in the nation, but allowed 514 yards against Southern Miss.
“We just got our butt kicked. Simple as that. [This was the] first time our defense had as many missed tackles as we did tonight. That was uncharacteristic of our defense. We gave up a lot of big plays, explosive plays for touchdowns… and I was very disappointed our guys didn’t play like how they’ve been playing all year long,” Taggart said.
Gore Jr. torched FAU for 111 rushing yards and a touchdown, while junior wide receiver Jason Brownlee caught three passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
With junior running back Malcolm Davidson and senior running back BJ Emmons being out for FAU, it led to more touches for senior running back James Charles who ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
The Owls utilized both Tronti and Posey in the offense, but Tronti had the vast majority of the team’s passing attempts with Posey being used mostly as a runner.
Tronti finished the game 17-33 passing, 162 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
“I thought Nick [Tronti]did a good job of leading our offense. I thought he made some good decisions. overall, I think Nick [Tronti] did a really good job,” Taggart said.
Every time FAU got close, Southern Miss pulled away even more. Late in the third quarter, FAU successfully cut the lead down to seven after a Charles touchdown, but then gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The game remained out of reach for FAU, outside of a couple of big plays like sophomore safety Armani-Eli Adams returning a fumble for a touchdown and senior cornerback Diashun Moss getting an interception.
With a spot in the C-USA championship game unlikely, FAU sets its sights on a potential bowl game berth to extend their season.
Trey Avant is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @TreyAvant3.