FAU Football: Fourth quarter turnover seals 28-26 loss at Purdue

The Owls have an 0-2 record on the road with the defeat.


Courtesy of FAU Athletics

Junior running back Larry McCammon III.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

The FAU Owls (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) fell 28-26, as a fourth-quarter fumble secured the victory for the Purdue University Boilermakers (2-2) Saturday night at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Ind.

“Tough loss for our football team, but I’m really proud of the way our guys responded,” said head coach Willie Taggart.

After being ruled as the starter pregame, Purdue’s sixth-year quarterback Austin Burton led the Boilermakers on a 10-play, 77-yard opening drive that left them with an early lead. Burton connected with sixth-year wide receiver Charlie Jones for a seven-yard touchdown pass, putting the Boilermakers ahead 7-0.

The Owls’ offense struggled early in the game, having to punt on their first two possessions and settling for a field goal on their third. 

After forcing a punt on two consecutive Purdue drives, sophomore wide receiver LaJohntay Wester ended a 96-yard drive with his fifth receiving touchdown of the season, putting the Owls ahead 10-7. The last time FAU led a power-five opponent was Sep. 24, 2011, when they held a three-point lead in the first quarter over the University of Auburn Tigers. 

Redshirt sophomore Morgan Suarez’s second made field goal of the night extended the FAU lead to 13-7, however, the Boilermakers retook the lead with 0:59 to play in the first half. Jones caught his second touchdown of the night, this time a twelve-yard pass that left Purdue up by one at halftime. 

Burton and the Purdue offense had another efficient drive, extending their lead to 21-13 to start the second half. 

Two drives later, as it seemed like the game was starting to get away from FAU, redshirt sophomore safety Dwight Toombs II intercepted a pass from Burton, which the offense capitalized on with a touchdown. Wester continued his fantastic performance with another touchdown catch, his second of the game, slimming the deficit to 21-20.

“[LaJohntay] just did what he’s been doing for us all year long,” said Taggart on Wester’s performance that included nine receptions for 90 yards and three touchdowns. 

After Purdue missed a field-goal attempt that gave the ball back to the Owls for a chance to retake the lead, Perry threw his third interception of the season. 

“[N’Kosi] had some mistakes, we don’t want any turnovers, but he didn’t let that get him down,” said Taggart. “He just kept playing and finding ways to make plays for our football team and we’re gonna need that from him as we continue to go.

The Boilermakers quickly converted the turnover into points, going on a seven-play, 35-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown pass, extending their lead to 28-20 with 8:01 remaining in the fourth quarter. 

Despite the previous turnover, on the ensuing possession Perry nearly singlehandedly led the Owls back to the red zone in four plays on the ensuing possession, finding Wester again for his third receiving touchdown of the game. The five-yard touchdown slimmed Purdue’s lead to 28-26, forcing the Owls to try and tie the score by attempting the two-point conversion. 

The two-point attempt was unsuccessful after the double-pass that the Owls’ offense ran went incomplete, leaving them down by two. 

The Boilermakers punted on their next possession, giving the ball back to FAU and leaving one final opportunity to score. After advancing the ball to their own 43-yard line, Perry fumbled the ball on a fourth-down quarterback sneak, securing the victory for Purdue.

“Something we talked about all week long was going out and competing for all four quarters,” said Taggart. “Because our guys computed for four quarters, we had a chance there. We just didn’t finish it off.”

The Owls will now travel to Denton, Texas, to resume conference play against the University of North Texas Mean Green (2-3) on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Apogee Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

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