FAU Football: Owls score 38 unanswered points, crush Georgia Southern 38-6 in home opener

N’Kosi Perry threw for 332 yards and four touchdowns.


Photo by Eston Parker III.

Michael Gennaro, Social Media Manager

The Owls (1-1) remain unbeaten at home under head coach Willie Taggart, scoring 38 unanswered points on the way to a 38-6 win over Georgia Southern University (1-1) in the home opener Saturday afternoon.

“I thought since I’ve been here, this was the first time we’ve played a complete game,” Taggart said. “We’ve never played a game where we’ve been up and allowed our defense to pin their ears back.”

Taggart said it was “by far” the best game the Owls have played under his tenure.

Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry was poised for a second straight week, extending plays with his legs and finding open receivers. Perry threw for four touchdowns and 332 yards for the game, completing 19 of 28 passes attempted.

“I still felt like I left a lot of plays, a lot of throws out there, and could have put up more numbers and more points,” Perry said.

Perry used the whole field and hit all of his targets. Freshman receiver LaJohntay Wester caught seven passes for 127 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown down the left sideline that sealed the game for FAU.

“Today was a big game for me, but it wasn’t my best game. I got a lot to still improve on,” Wester said. Wester said his blocking is a specific part of his game he wants to improve upon.

“LaJohntay is just an all-around baller,” Perry said.

Redshirt sophomore receiver Je’Quan Burton’s only catch was a 50-yard touchdown, and redshirt senior tight end John Mitchell caught four passes, two of them resulting in touchdowns.

“John Mitchell comes to work every single day of the week… Every single day he’s getting more comfortable out there,” Perry said.

Georgia Southern scored on its first drive of the game and kept the FAU offense quiet until senior linebacker Akileis Leroy forced a fumble inside the FAU red zone that gave the Owls life. Perry led a drive that was capped off by a 19-yard touchdown catch by Mitchell with 1:45 left in the half. 

“Perfect timing,” Leroy said of his forced fumble. “Coach stressed a lot about getting the ball out this week…They were getting ready to punch it in, and one play can just shift momentum like that.”

After taking its first lead, FAU quickly got the ball back after a Georgia Southern three-and-out, and redshirt junior kicker Aaron Shahriari made a 27-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. The Owls led 10-6 at the half. 

Perry led three touchdown drives in the third quarter and the rout was on. FAU’s defense swarmed the Eagles’ offense in the second half. Georgia Southern could not consistently complete passes against the Owls’ defense, passing for only 118 yards and gaining only 254 total yards.

The Owls gained 525 yards of offense during the game and had 26 first downs. FAU dominated the time of possession battle, in huge part to how good Perry was on third down. The Owls converted 10 out of 15 third-down chances in the game, many of them kept alive by Perry’s scrambling.

The Owls were 4-4 in the red zone during the game. 

“I feel like it’s my job to keep the team locked in and focused,” Perry said. 

Perry credited the crowd’s energy for firing up the Owls.

“It was amazing, so fun playing on that field in front of those fans,” Perry said.

Redshirt senior Korel Smith intercepted a pass, and the defense kept Georgia Southern scoreless after its opening touchdown drive.

The Owls will next play Fordham at FAU Stadium on Saturday, Sep. 18 at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

“If we do the things we’re supposed to do, no one can stop us no matter who we’re playing,” Perry said.

Michael Gennaro is a staff writer and social media manager for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or message him on Twitter or Instagram @mycoolgennaro.