FAU Football: Owls lose crucial game to Marshall 28-13 despite Johnny Ford’s efforts

The loss deals a massive blow to FAU’s C-USA championship hopes.


Logan Agostino

Johnny Ford (#5) speeding past Marshall’s defenders on Nov. 6, 2021. He rushed for 138 yards on 13 carries in the loss.

Trey Avant, Staff Writer

In a pivotal matchup involving the race for a spot in the C-USA championship game, the FAU Owls (5-4 overall, 3-2 C-USA) fell 28-13 to the Marshall Thundering Herd (6-3 overall, 4-1 C-USA). The loss snapped FAU’s 12-game home winning streak, which was tied for the fifth-longest streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

“It was a tough loss for our football team. We didn’t play well in all three phases of the game against a good football team,” said head coach Willie Taggart.

Marshall broke the game open on the opening kickoff with sophomore wide receiver Jayden Harrison returning a 99-yard touchdown to the endzone, but FAU retaliated almost immediately with a 27-yard touchdown pass from graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry to junior wide receiver Brandon Robinson.

Both teams relied heavily on their running backs. FAU leaned on sophomore running back Johnny Ford to generate most of the team’s offense in the first half. He led the team with 138 rushing yards on 13 carries. 

As a team, the Owls ran the ball a whopping 47 times.

Marshall’s freshman running back Rasheen Ali, the nation’s leader in total touchdowns, added to his season total with a two-touchdown performance. He also recorded 90 rushing yards and 70 receiving yards as FAU struggled to contain the dynamic running back.

“They did a good job of getting [Ali] open in space in the pass game. I thought in the run game, our guys did their job for the most part,” Taggart said.

Even with the big game from Ali,  FAU did a solid job limiting Marshall’s ground game, holding the team to 96 total yards rushing, but it was quarterback Grant Wells who really hurt FAU. 

Wells shredded FAU’s defense to the tune of 351 passing yards, one touchdown, one interception, and a 68.4 completion percentage. Senior wide receiver Willie Johnson led all receivers with five catches for 140 yards.

In contrast to Wells, Marshall’s tenth-ranked pass defense stifled Perry and the constant pressure from pass rushers led to Perry being sacked six times. Perry finished the game with 198 passing yards and a touchdown.

“We didn’t play good enough,” Perry said. “We can’t have turnovers, we can’t have the drops, we can’t have the missed passes that I had. We left a lot out there.”

Marshall is now 8-1 against FAU all-time and has won the last four matchups.

“We got three guaranteed games left and all those games are important. We got a chance to continue to get better as a football team and as a program. There’s one game at a time and we don’t control our [destiny] but we can go and take care of these games and whatever happens, happens,” Taggart said.

The Owls will travel to Norfolk, Va. to face off against Old Dominion on Saturday, Nov. 13. The game will be broadcast at 3:30 p.m on ESPN+.

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