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FAU's young linemen improved just enough to help Owls to huge upset win over UAB


FAU's young linemen improved just enough to help Owls to huge upset win over UAB

FAU's young linemen improved just enough to help Owls to huge upset win over UAB
By Tom D'angelo Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 9:34 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3, 2010

Jeff Van Camp saw the fear in his young offensive linemen's eyes and knew the start of Florida Atlantic's season would be rough.

But he also was confident that the linemen would grow - and that they did.

"Those guys were nervous. A lot of them have never traveled before," Van Camp, FAU's quarterback, said following the Owls' 32-31 upset win over the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Thursday night.

"They settled down and made the plays when they counted."

None of the Owls linemen had ever started a game at FAU. While they had an up-and-down game, they did just enough to help the two-touchdown underdog Owls pull off the upset.

"They were killing us," coach Howard Schnellenberger said of the line. "I think we got lucky. (The Blazers) were getting penetration in gaps on almost every defensive play."

Schnellenberger knew from the first play, when Van Camp was sacked for an 8-yard loss, that adjustments were necessary. Soon, the Owls had Van Camp rolling out and running back Alfred Morris running to the edge.

"We ran a little bit more of a quick game to get it out of my hands at first," Van Camp said. "They started to relax a little bit and we were able to take our normal drops and run our offense a little bit and run the ball efficiently."

Van Camp deserves most of the credit for completing 14-of-24 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, two to Lester Jean. And Morris did most of the work for his hard-fought 103 yards, the last 38 of which resulted in the winning score with 2:20 to play. But the line did start to come together as the game progressed.

"They finally settled down. They were able to let us move the ball," Van Camp said of his line made up of junior tackle Max Karrick, sophomore guard Andy Czurpynski, freshman center Jimmie Colley, junior guard Chris Newbold and freshman tackle Joe Bailey.

The Owls' victory, though, came down to three huge plays.

Late in the first half Van Camp lofted a ball toward Jean, who, with one arm pinned to his side by the defender, reached out with the other hand, caught the ball and raced 77 yards for a touchdown.

The second play came when the Blazers were leading by 16 points and threatening to seal the game midway through the third quarter. But UAB receiver Roddell Carter could not hold a catchable ball and FAU safety Brentley Harstad intercepted it and ran 38 yards for a touchdown.

The last play of the game was the biggest when FAU linebacker Michael Lockley blocked a 28-yard field-goal attempt to seal the one-point win.

"I reminded them the game was still in their hands," Schnellenberger said about the final play. "All we had to go was block a field goal."

* Sun Belt Champions & New Orleans Bowl Champions-2007
* Motor City Bowl/Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl Champions-2008
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