FAU Football: Owls drop to 2-4 after crushing 45-28 loss at North Texas

Drops and interceptions spelled doom for the Owls.


Courtesy of FAU Athletics

Redshirt junior safety Teja Young awaits the snap.

Trey Avant, Staff Writer

The Florida Atlantic University Owls (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) lost 45-28 on the road to the University of North Texas Mean Green (3-3, 2-0 C-USA) on Saturday evening. FAU has now lost three straight games and falls to 0-3 on the road.

“I felt like we left 20-something points out on the scoreboard with those dropped passes,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “For a football team that’s looking to win and win on the road, those are plays that you just can’t do. We got to have those, that’s how you win on the road by making those routine plays.”

Drops were a major issue throughout the game for FAU. The usually sure-handed wide receivers LaJohntay Wester and JeQuan Burton both dropped wide open catches in the first quarter that could have led to touchdowns. Dropped passes continued to hurt FAU’s comeback attempts as the game started to get out of hand.

Prior to the game, Taggart acknowledged the threat the duo of sophomore running backs Ayo Adeyi and Oscar Adeway III posed to FAU. However, it was sophomore running back Ikaika Ragsdale who led the way for the Mean Green.

Ragsdale led both teams in all-purpose yards with 119 rushing yards and one touchdown on 16 carries. Adeyi rushed for 75 yards on six carries and Adeway III rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries.

UNT finished the game with a whopping 51 carries for 300 rushing yards.

For much of the first half, FAU struggled to get anything going on offense. Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry threw a pick-six, marking his fourth of the season, and on the ensuing possession, wide receiver Jyaire Shorter caught his third touchdown of the night for the Mean Green, putting them ahead 28-7.

Shorter was extremely efficient with his opportunities, hauling in three catches for 52 yards and three touchdowns.

Despite the 21-point deficit, FAU showed some signs of life and finished the first half on a strong note.

Junior safety Teja Young nabbed an interception and returned it 64 yards for a touchdown. Junior running back Larry McCammon III followed with an electric 35-yard receiving touchdown after breaking two tackles and diving toward the endzone with nine seconds remaining in the half.

FAU was down 28-21 at halftime and the momentum was on their side. Unfortunately, it did not last long.

North Texas quarterback Austin Aune picked apart FAU’s lackluster pass defense, putting his team in prime scoring position on several occasions. Aune finished the game with 180 passing yards, three touchdowns, and one interception on 14 completions.

Along with the drops, interceptions proved detrimental to the Owls. Perry threw two interceptions, one was a pick-six and the second was nearly another one.

“You can’t throw two interceptions for a touchdown. That’s a killer. We spotted them 14 points, that’s the difference in the ballgame. Three dropped balls and then two pick-six, it’s hard to win that way,” Taggart said.

Perry finished the game with 295 passing yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed five times for 27 yards and one touchdown.

The lone bright spot for FAU had to be Wester. Outside of an uncharacteristic drop, he finished with 10 catches for 113 receiving yards and one touchdown. With his touchdown, Wester now leads the nation in receiving touchdowns with eight.

“[Wester] always comes back and finds a way to make plays for us. He’s a winner,” Taggart said. “We have to continue to find ways to get him the football because he does some really good things when the ball is in his hands so we have to continue to find ways to get him the rock as we go.”

With the bye week coming up, Taggart sees this as a learning opportunity for the players and coaches.

“It is a great week to get healthy. Our guys have been gone for six straight weeks,” Taggart said. “We have time to really work on all those fundamentals, look at [ourselves], and things that we do well and don’t do well. As coaches, we got to make sure we put our players in the best position to make the plays that they can make.”

FAU will not take the field again until their matchup against the Rice University Owls. The game will be held on Oct. 15 at 6 p.m at FAU Stadium and will be broadcast 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.