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


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


FAU Football: FAU falls to Rice in season finale 24-21

FAU’s 24-21 loss sends Rice to bowl eligibility.
FAU Athletics
FAU junior defensive back Daedae Hill (#6) squaring up against Rice redshirt junior wide receiver Luke McCaffrey (#10) during FAU’s 24-21 loss in their season finale in Houston, Texas on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023.

On Saturday, the Florida Atlantic Owls (4-8, 3-5 AAC) lost 24-21 to the Rice University Owls (6-6, 4-4 AAC) in their season finale at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. Rice clinched bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season, while the loss secured FAU’s worst record in three seasons.

“What I told the team after the game was, ‘Don’t ever get used to this feeling,’” head coach Tom Herman said. “That’s something I’m worried about when you lose four straight to end the season, and that’s a feeling that can sink in.”

FAU opened the first quarter with a 75-yard rushing touchdown by graduate running back Kobe Lewis to put the Owls up 7-0 early.

Rice’s offense went on the field for about a 6 minute drive. 

Following a three-and-out for FAU, Rice freshman quarterback AJ Padgett, who was making his third start of the season, discovered a wide-open junior tight end, Boden Groen, for Rice to tie the game 7-7 with a little over three minutes left in the first quarter.

Padgett found redshirt junior wide receiver Luke McCaffrey for a 30-yard pass down the middle for a first down in Rice’s first drive of the second quarter.

At FAU’s 15-yard line, Padgett threw to the end zone to graduate tight end Elijah Mojarro, but junior defensive back Daedae Hill intercepted the pass at FAU’s 1-yard line. Hill’s interception  ended Rice’s six minute drive at the start of the second quarter. 

FAU’s red zone defense once again stopped Rice from converting on third and one at FAU’s three-yard line. After forcing Padgett to throw out of bounds on a scramble, redshirt junior kicker Tim Horn kicked a field goal to put Rice up 10-7 before halftime.

FAU junior quarterback Daniel Richardson connected to junior wide receiver LaJohntay Wester for a 15-yard pass, getting the Owls inside Rice’s territory for the first time. Following that, Richardson connected to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tony Johnson in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown pass for Johnson’s fourth touchdown pass this season, pushing FAU up 14-10 early in the third quarter.

Padgett and Rice answered with a seven-yard touchdown pass to McCaffrey to put Rice back in the lead, 17-14. 

Following FAU junior defensive lineman Decarius Hawthorne sacking Padgett on a second down, Padgett found McCaffrey again for a 20-yard gain. On the next play, Padgett found Groen again at the left corner of the end zone for his second touchdown. Rice ended the third quarter leading 24-14.

Freshman running back Xavier Terrell’s 35-yard gain and redshirt senior wide receiver BJ Alexander’s 13-yard reception opened FAU’s first drive in the fourth quarter. Redshirt junior quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. ran into the end zone, bringing the score to 24-21 with Rice leading.

On a trick play on fourth-and-three at FAU’s 20-yard line, FAU stopped McCaffrey with no timeouts remaining to turn the ball over. FAU couldn’t get a first down with four straight incompletions by Wester, turning the ball over to Rice. Rice won 24-21.

“We let them down,” said Herman. “I also told them that this is a different team–I know you look at the standings–I say turn on the film. We’re fighting, we’re scratching, we’re clawing. We just got to do it better with more depth. I told the seniors, ‘When we win a conference championship around here, they’re going to get a ring because of the hard work and dedication to a new staff coming in and, obviously, a lot of things changed for the better.’”

FAU finished the season on a four-game losing streak.

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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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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