FAU Football: Owls collapse in 31-7 loss at Air Force

FAU’s defense was dismantled by the Falcons’ triple-option offense in the 24-point road loss.


N’Kosi Perry (pictured white, #7) scored FAU’s only touchdown in the loss on Sept. 25, 2021. Photo courtesy of FAU Athletics.

Cameron Priester, Contributing Writer

The FAU Owls (2-2) lost to the Air Force Falcons (3-1) 31-7 in a frustrating road loss at Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Saturday night.

The loss makes the two schools’ all-time record facing each other 1-1, including FAU’s nail-biting 33-27 win over Air Force in 2018. 

“We just didn’t play with the same physicality that they played with and when you don’t do that against an option team, you’re gonna struggle,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “I thought physically, they beat us in the trenches in this ballgame.”

FAU’s woes started early with a delay-of-game penalty on the first play from scrimmage. The rest of the drive went -7 yards and resulted in a punt. Air Force quickly took advantage with an eight-play, 68-yard touchdown drive to take a 7-0 lead where it was obvious that FAU was gonna struggle to contain the Falcons’ triple-option offense. 

Struggles on both sides of the ball continued for FAU with three more consecutive three-and-out drives, two of which Air Force capitalized on for touchdowns to push their lead to 21-0. The first of the two drives had a 94-yard, school-record-setting touchdown run for Air Force’s quarterback Haaziq Daniels. The Owls finally had something to feel good about after holding Air Force to only a field goal extending the falcons lead to 24-0. 

FAU finally got on the board late in the second quarter. Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry led the offense on a four-play drive that began with a 32-yard run by sophomore running back Johnny Ford and was capped off by a 34-yard touchdown run by Perry to make the score 24-7. The read option for six points would go on to be the only points FAU would put up and was one of the rare bright moments for Perry, who had impressed many throughout the first few weeks of the season with great poise and decision-making. 

The Owls’ defense finally was able to force a stop after the Air Force kicker shanked a 22-yard field goal, leaving the score 24-7 going into halftime.

Air Force got the ball to start the second half and FAU came up with another stop, forcing a punt after three plays. The Owl’s offense wasn’t able to capitalize on the stop by the defense and had another three-and-out drive of their own, punting the ball right back to Air Force. 

Following FAU’s fifth punt only 4:51 into the 3rd quarter, the Air Force offense went on a long touchdown drive. It spanned for 12 plays and 97 yards, as it pushed the lead to 24 points with 3:30 left in the third.

With 4:24 left in the fourth, the Owls had another drive cut short due to Perry throwing his first interception of the season.

Air Force failed to make anything of the late interception and turned the ball over on downs, giving it right back to the Owls’ offense. Right on theme with the rest of the night, the FAU offense also turned the ball over on downs despite a 15-yard penalty on the Air Force defense. The turnover ended the FAU offense’s night with Perry throwing an underwhelming 11 completions on 33 attempts for 78 yards and 141 total rushing yards for the entire FAU offense. 

Air Force ran out the remaining 1:32 left in the 4th quarter with 3 quarterback kneels, making the final score from Falcon Stadium a 31-7 win for Air Force. 

“It better be a wake up call for all of us. That was unacceptable. That’s not the way we play and it better not be the way we ever play again. Got a big game coming up at home, preseason is over with and [now it’s] conference play, and we need to get back to work ASAP,” Taggart said.

As the Owls make the trip back to Boca Raton, they prepare to bounce back for a huge game next week against FIU. The Owls will play host to their rivals at Howard Schnellenberger Field on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m., as the game will be broadcast on Stadium.

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