FAU Football: Owls’ road struggles continue with 49-21 loss at Middle Tennessee

The loss makes FAU 1-5 on the road this season, 3-13 on the road under head coach Willie Taggart.


Courtesy of FAU Athletics

Sophomore defensive lineman and sophomore outside linebacker Courtney McBride awaiting the snap against Middle Tennessee on Nov. 19, 2022.

Cameron Priester, Sports Editor

The FAU Owls (5-6, 4-3 C-USA) suffered a 49-21 loss to the Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders (6-5, 3-4 C-USA) on Saturday at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tenn. 

“We didn’t do anything well,” said head coach Willie Taggart. “It starts with me, I have to make sure we’re good as coaches. And our coaches have to make sure we put a good plan together for our guys.”

After the Blue Raiders took a 7-0 lead on the opening drive of the game, FAU answered right back on the following drive. Graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry ended the eight play, 65-yard drive on a one-yard quarterback sneak for the touchdown, tying the score at seven apiece. 

The Owls’ defense began to crumble as the first quarter came to a close. Middle Tennessee went on to score 21 unanswered points on three drives, all on touchdowns thrown by senior quarterback Chase Cunningham. 

Cunningham connected with junior wide receiver DJ England-Chisholm for a 14-yard touchdown, giving the Blue Raiders a commanding 28-7 lead with 2:22 left in the second quarter. 

“I don’t think we had a good plan defensively. We didn’t make any adjustments in that game, that’s the disappointing part,” said Taggart.

After their offense punted the ball for the fourth consecutive time, the Owls’ defense showed signs of life. Freshman outside linebacker Jaleel Mcrae snagged his first interception of the season, returning it for 57 yards to leave FAU with the ball on the 3-yard line. 

Two plays later, junior running back Larry McCammon III punched in a five-yard touchdown run to make the score 28-14 heading into halftime. 

Following the Owls’ fifth punt of the night on the opening drive of the second half, FAU and MTSU traded touchdown passes. Cunningham threw his fifth touchdown of the night to sophomore running back Frank Peasant, which Perry responded to a drive later with a 45-yard touchdown pass of his own, making the score 35-21. 

Perry, who was playing with a lingering-hand injury, finished the night completing 53% of his passes for 325 yards and a touchdown.

The hope the Owls’ had remaining went away as Middle Tennessee extended its lead a drive later. Senior running back Darius Bracy took a handoff five yards for a touchdown, pushing the Blue Raiders’ lead to 21 with 4:47 left in the third. 

After punting on back-to-back drives, the Blue Raiders extended their lead again with 5:45 left in regulation. Peasant scored his third touchdown of the night on a five-yard run, moving the score to 49-21 and sealing the FAU’s second consecutive loss to Middle Tennessee. 

“We just didn’t play well overall: offense, defense, and special teams,” said Taggart. “We didn’t coach well, they coached better than us, and we didn’t play well.”

The Owls will now return to Boca Raton hoping to clinch bowl eligibility in the season finale against the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers. The matchup is set for Saturday, Nov. 26, at noon and will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. 

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