FAU Football: Owls get blown out 35-14 in their season opener against UF

The Owls struggled defending against the run all game.


Eston Parker III

Akileis Leroy (pictured red #2) makes a goal line stop against Florida on Sept. 4, 2021.

Trey Avant, Staff Writer

The FAU Owls (0-1) opened the season with a 35-14 loss at Gainesville to the Florida Gators (1-0) Friday night. The loss marks FAU’s fourth in a row to UF. FAU previously played against UF in 2007, 2011, and 2015.

“We knew coming into this game that we had to play a perfect ballgame when you’re going up against a team of Florida’s caliber. We needed to be really good offensively, defensively, special teams, and as coaches and we weren’t,” head coach Willie Taggart said.

UF came out of the gates quickly, scoring on the first drive of the game after a two-yard run by senior running back Dameon Pierce. The Gators then followed up with a nine-yard touchdown pass by junior quarterback Emory Jones to senior wide receiver Rick Wells to make the score 14-0.

The rest of the first half saw UF struggling to get anything going against FAU’s defense. The passing game was efficient but lacked big, chunk plays. Jones finished the game completing 17 out of 27 pass attempts for 113 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions.

The same can be said for FAU as the offensive line struggled with pass protection and opening running lanes. Graduate transfer quarterback N’Kosi Perry was sacked six times and spent most of his time avoiding pass rushers and trying to get the ball out as fast as possible.

Even while under constant pressure the entire game, Perry pieced together a nice performance, completing 19 of his 33 passes for 261 yards and a touchdown.

“I thought [Perry] did some good things and I thought he had some plays that he would really like to have back. I think some of the plays that he missed comes down to needing more reps and more understanding and he’ll be better at it,” Taggart said.

UF found great success on the ground with the team rushing for a combined 400 yards. Backup quarterback freshman Anthony Richardson led all players with 160 rushing yards and a touchdown. 

Senior Malik Davis led all running backs with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown while Pierce added 31 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Jones also added in 74 yards on the ground.

The Owls showed signs of life late in the fourth quarter with a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Johnny Ford and a 13-yard touchdown reception by junior wide receiver Brandon Robinson but by then, the game was already out of reach.

FAU will return to the field Saturday, Sept. 11, in its home opener against Georgia Southern. The game will be broadcast at 3:30 p.m on Stadium.

Trey Avant is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @TreyAvant3.