FAU Football: Owls annihilate FIU 58-21 to take home their fifth consecutive Shula Bowl

The Owls concluded their first conference game with a Shula Bowl win.


Eston Parker III

The team celebrates winning their fifth consecutive Shula Bowl after the 58-21 victory over FIU on Oct. 2, 2021. Photo by Eston Parker III.

Brianna Smith, Staff Writer

The infamous rivalry between “the team closest to the beach,” and “the team down south,” returned for another season Saturday afternoon. Though FAU and FIU battled on the Howard Schnellenberger field at FAU Stadium to see which team would walk away 2021 Shula Bowl champions, FAU kept the trophy at home, finishing the game 58-21.

The Owls played an even game or as running back Johnny Ford puts it, “hitting on all cylinders,” as both their offense and defense’s full week practice showed during this game’s performance.  

Within just seconds of the game, redshirt junior wide receiver Brandon Robinson caught a 45-yard pass from graduate quarterback N’kosi Perry. Just moments later, Perry finished the play by rushing the ball into the endzone, getting the Owls their first touchdown of the night.  

For the Shula Bowl 2021 MVP, Perry had a total of 329 passing yards alongside putting the ball right in the hands of his teammates whose receiving yards were among the team’s highest with Ford having 89 yards, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Je’Quan Burton at 72 yards, and graduate tight end Zaire Mitchell-Paden with 40 yards and making a touchdown himself.

“We had the attack mindset and we came in prepared. We ran the ball today, which was huge for us,” Perry said. “Anytime we can run the ball, I think we’ll be successful.”

With Perry and Ford being relatively new to the Owl family and the rivalry between FAU and FIU, their mindset entering the game was just to make sure they did what they came to do and that was to win. 

“I saw it come wide open. When I threw the ball I saw that he wasn’t looking at me so I [was] definitely nervous and then he [bobbled] it,” Perry said. “So that had my heart racing a little more, but once he caught it, I knew he was gone.”

The two made for a successful pair as Ford made an 89-yard touchdown. Ford led the running game with 102 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

“I could have five yards,” Ford said. “On the decoy of that game and we win? We won? I’m happy.” 

Senior linebacker Akileis “KeKe” Leroy led the defensive team with a game-high total of eight tackles. 

“For me, I felt like I waited for a year for this game. The intensity that I came into this game with tonight, the passion I stepped on this field I had to spread the energy,” Leroy said. 

For the Panthers, wide receiver Tyrese Chambers led the team with 79 receiving yards and the team’s total of 319 receiving yards was spread between nine of their receivers. In the first half of the game, both teams seemed to go score for score.

“Man, what a win,” head coach Willie Taggart said.

Tonight the Owls remember FIU as “F-I-who?,” as Leroy put it. 

FAU heads out on the road to take on the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Stadium. 

Bria Smith is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @itsbriiaa.