Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU Football: Owls fall to the Fighting Illini, extend losing streak to three

Following a devastating 48-14 loss to Clemson, FAU falls to their final non-conference opponent 23-17.
FAU Athletics
The FAU defense lining up against the Illinois offense. September 23, 2023.

The Florida Atlantic Owls (1-3) lost to the University of Illinois Fighting Illini (2-2) in Champaign, Ill., 23-17 on Saturday evening. This was the Owls’ final non-conference game of the season before heading into a bye week.

“I think there’s a lot of guys in there that understand that this was a very winnable game that we let ourselves beat ourselves but a lot less this week than in previous weeks,” stated Herman in a post-game press conference. “So, I think [the] guys can feel and see that improvement and I know we are going to be better for having played these past two games when we do hit conference because of the speed and physicality of what we’ve just gone through in the last two weeks.”

Behind junior quarterback Daniel Richardson, who made his debut start for the Owls, FAU at one point led by 10. That lead disappeared, giving up 14 answered points in the second quarter which they never recovered from.

“It felt great, especially against a Power 5 team, a Big 10 team, which I’ve played in games like this against,” Richardson said about his inaugural game as quarterback. “It was just a special feeling, the guys were behind me. I was just comfortable. I just took what the defense gave me and the guys just rallied behind me. The outcome wasn’t the one we wanted but we will go back to the drawing board and execute and get ready for Tulsa.”

After a solid drive by the Fighting Illini offense, the Owls defense were able to prevent junior running back Reggie Love III from getting the first down on fourth-and-2 at FAU’s 21-yard line.

With the turnover on downs, the Owls’ offense had some promising plays on their opening drive. However, the Fighting Illini defense held the Owls to fourth and long, resulting in a punt.

After redshirt senior outside linebacker Xavier Peters forced a fumble early in the first quarter, the Owls’ offense were able to drive down the field, only to get stopped inside the red zone. They settled for a field goal to get on the scoreboard first.

The Owls offense were able to capitalize on the success of the Owls’ defense. After a sack and a fourth and long by the defense, Richardson was able to find junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester in the corner of the end zone to score the first touchdown of the game at the end of the quarter.

The momentum changed at the start of the second quarter, as the Fighting Illini’s offense successfully ran a “flea flicker” pass, leading to a 46-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Griffen Moore. 

Inside the two-minute mark, Altmyer and the Fighting Illini offense were able to score with a walk-in touchdown by Altmyer to put the Fighting Illini up 14-10 going into halftime.

Illinois’ defense stopped FAU’s offense on another fourth-and-long, kicking off the third quarter. 

The Fighting Illini’s offense were able to score a touchdown on the Owls’ defense, extending their lead to ten points.

The Owls’ defense was able to halt the Fighting Illini from scoring a touchdown, allowing the Fighting Illini to only score a field goal. 

On fourth-and-1, senior running back Larry McCammon III ran for 25 yards and again for another first down on offense. With a face mask penalty called on Illinois, FAU was well within Illinois’ red zone by the end of the third quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, redshirt senior wide receiver Je’Quan Burton, who made his return from concussion protocol after suffering some busted teeth in FAU’s loss to Ohio, was unable to secure the pass from Richardson on fourth down, resulting in a turnover on downs. 

Just after that play, a fumble by Illinois’ sophomore wide receiver Hank Beatty was recovered by FAU’s redshirt sophomore cornerback Jayden Williams inside the 15-yard line.

However, the Owls offense succumbed to another fourth down in the red zone. Richardson tried to find redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tony Johnson in the end zone, only to be tipped by Illinois and recovered by senior defensive back Nicario Harper.

The Owls’ defense was able to put the Fighting Illini’s offense on third-and-out, forcing a punt back to the Owls.

The Owls’ offense drove down the field and scored with a touchdown pass from Richardson to redshirt senior wide receiver BJ Alexander. After several first downs by Fighting Illini, freshman running back Kaden Feagin easily ran past the Owls’ defense to slide down within the 10-yard line, at the end of regulation.

Maddox Greenberg is the Sports Editor for the University Press. Email [email protected] or DM via Twitter @MaddoxGreenberg and Instagram @maddoxblade04 for information regarding this or other stories.

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About the Contributor
Maddox Greenberg
Maddox Greenberg, Sports Editor
Maddox started writing sports for the UP in Summer 2022 with the intention of improving his journalistic writing. He is a sophomore majoring in multimedia journalism and plans on becoming a sports broadcaster. He is a broadcaster for FAU Owl Radio.

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