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Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

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Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24



Defense can’t limit FIU, as Wilbert has career night

Florida Atlantic had never let Florida International win back-to-back games in the Shula Bowl heading into Friday night.
On a nationally televised stage, the Owls couldn’t stop one of the conference’s worst offenses as the Panthers walked away with a 34-24 victory.

“We played outside of who we are. We did things tonight that are uncharacteristic of who we have been for the last four or five weeks,” head coach Carl Pelini said.

The win comes as the second in a row for FIU in the twelve year series, and can be attributed to blown assignments on defense and a lack of production from a run game that totaled -12 yards on the night.

From the first whistle of the game, the Owls couldn’t stop the deep pass and the Panthers made them pay.

The visitors drove the length of the field on their opening drive of the contest and quarterback Jake Medlock found wide receiver Willis Wright for a 38-yard touchdown pass to set the tone of the night.

FAU simple couldn’t prevent the big play while the offense couldn’t run the ball.

Wilbert was ineffective in the first quarter and was just 4-of-11 passing at the conclusion of the period. He looked off  of his usual mark and didn’t have time in the pocket. The offense line couldn’t provide him with protection, and the run game was nonexistent.

The passer would find gain some composure a few snaps later and hit Nexon Dorvilus for a 17-yard touchdown pass to tie the game in the second quarter.

FIU would respond on their next drive with two pass plays to put them inside the Owls’ 5-yard line. The Panthers would then call a “tackle eligible” gadget play, and 280-pound offensive tackle Rupert Bryan would run the ball in for a 5-yard touchdown.

The Owls would cut into the lead with a field goal before half but trailed 14-10 at the break. The team had combined for -11 rushing yards and was just 2-for-8 on third down.

A weather delay at the beginning of the third quarter suspended play, but once action resumed FAU would take it’s first and only lead of the game.

Running back Jonathon Wallace would punch in a score from 1-yard out and things finally looked positive for the home team.

But the advantage wouldn’t last long as the Owls would give up another costly play.

FIU returned the ensuing kickoff 100-yards for a touchdown and retook the lead. The Owls had effectively led for just thirteen seconds of the contest.

“They really broke our back with that kickoff return,” Pelini said. “That’s got to be fixed with as much time we spend on special teams for that to happen.”

The Panthers would add score another for insurance on a Medlock pass to Wayne Times, and held a 27-17 lead heading into the final quarter of play.

FAU would do it’s best to construct a comeback bid, but the effort was short lived.

Wide receiver Jenson Stoshak caught a deflected pass and raced 60-yards for a touchdown, but that would be the team’s final points.

FIU would add another touchdown on a Kendrick Rhodes 1-yard touchdown run, before Wilbert threw an interception in the red zone.

“I’ll probably think about that for the rest of my life,” Wilbert said of the pass.

The quarterback finished with a career-high 403 passing yards, but the interception in the fourth quarter marked his first in 250 passing attempts. Wilbert was sacked four times and frequently was forced to make throws while being hit.

Wallace and the run game never developed for the offense and the unit finished with -12 rushing yards – the program’s third worst rushing performance in school history.

The Owls’ defense gave up 264-passing yards and couldn’t stop Medlock, who often kept plays alive with his feet.

“We had opportunities defensively. We gave up on the pass rush; we were playing soft, wouldn’t challenge receivers and missed tackles. We had the opportunities to make some plays,” Pelini said.

FAU falls to 2-8 on the season and 2-9 in games played in the rain.

Game Notes

- True freshman wide receiver Jenson Stoshak started his first career game, as Byron Hankerson was held out of the contest. The pass catcher filled in nicely at the ‘X’ wide receiver position catching 5 passes for 108 yards including his 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Numerous times he helped move the chains and proved to be a solid pass catching option for Wilbert. The Owls had two 100-yard receivers in Stoshak and William Dukes for the first time since 2008.

- Another freshman, linebacker Freedom Whitfield, had a solid night as well. Whitfield was used as a coverage linebacker and often spied the mobile Medlock passing situations. He finished with two tackles and a quarterback hurry, which stalled an FIU drive.

- FIU wide receiver Wayne Times and Willis Wright had a productive night and got the best of cornerback Christian Milstead. The two were often matched up against the defender on the boundary side of the field, and consistently where open. The receivers tallied 98 yards receiving including the two touchdowns.

- Wilbert became the first FAU quarterback to pass for over 400 yards since Rusty Smith accomplished the feat in 2007 against Minnesota. His 28 completions and 51 attempts where the most in his career along with the 60-yard strike to Stoshak.

Twitter: @andrewrivins
Email: [email protected]
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

-12 rushing did not know that was possible for a d-1 team
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

owlcountry40 said

-12 rushing did not know that was possible for a d-1 team

Third time in negative yards in program history other two times was before the jump to D-1. FIU's right tackle had more rushing yards (5), than FAU's offense (-12).

Twitter: @andrewrivins
Email: [email protected]
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

Can someone ask the head coach why a D1 football team only has one running play. It's so easy to stop the run vs FAU. They have ONE running play and they do it all the time.
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

This wasn't as much a football game as it was chinese water torture over four hours. It'll be memorable for all the wrong reasons.

I agree with Pelini that this team played uncharacteristic of itself. That was not the same FAU football team that we've fielded the past couple of weeks, and it wasn't because of the rain. With the exception of Reaser, the secondary looked lost out there and our O-line flat out didn't do its job. I was really hoping with two halftimes (the second being the lightning delay) that our team would really turn the corner in the second half… but I didn't see it.

Most disappointing was that FIU players seemed amped up while FAU played seemed to be going through the motions; you could definitely tell who wanted it more. In the beginning of the fourth quarter, I think pretty much everybody wanted the game to be over… including the players. It was exhausting just watching it, let alone playing it.

It is what it is, we did some a$$hole things pre-game and now their smug a$$holes are coming around here to rub the victory in our face.

We have one more game, and I'll listen in, but I honestly don't care how it goes. As far as I'm concerned, this was the last game of our season.

305owl said

Can someone ask the head coach why a D1 football team only has one running play. It's so easy to stop the run vs FAU. They have ONE running play and they do it all the time.

This is the only thing that pisses me off about our offense. Maybe we should start an email campaign to send our OC other running plays that exist.

P.S. I don't respond to guest posts. All guests are encouraged to register with the site.
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

And ZERO carries for Jackson again, he is the ONLY back that is explosive, get him the ball outside quickly and let him move!
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

In my opinion, I thought the D was more to blame than the offense.

Yeah we couldn't run the ball and Wilbert had a bad pick, but when you continuously miss tackles all night, that's not going to help. How many times did we have a receiver stopped dead in his tracks only for him to break a tackle and get another 5-6 yards out of it. Late in the 3rd quarter there was a play where Reaser had the guy stopped, on 3rd down, before the 1st down marker. Needless to say, another broken tackle by the receiver and Whitfield had to run over and make the tackle after they had already gotten the first down. Few plays later, TD FIU.

Even when we had Medlock wrapped up, we can't bring him down and TWICE he's able to get off a pass to a receiver and both times it resulted in an FIU TD.

After a great punt pinning them at the 1, and then a false start that backed them up another half yard and the great crowd noise provided by the students, we allow them to drive 99 1/2 yards for a TD including a 50 yard pass. Where the hell are out "great" defensive backs? Were they watching the rain fall while the receivers were running past them?

I will say this about the offense though, there were multiple times where McKinney had no coverage off the line. Rather than a quick pass which would've easily resulted in a 5-6 yard gain, we run the ball as usual up the middle for no gain and other times Wilbert just held on to the ball way too long. It seemed like he was looking for that deep threat and the OL took the night off which resulted in multiple sacks.

The one play that really pissed me off was when Wilbert had a WIDE open field in front of him and started running with it, stopped and threw a pass which fell short of the receiver. If he had just tucked it and ran, he could have had the first down. In fact, even the linemen thought he was going to run with it which resulted in an ineligible man down field.

You can blame the offense all you want and write letters and emails to fire the OC when last night's game was more of the defenses fault than anyone else

My two favorite teams are FAU, and who ever is beating FIU!
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

agreed Jab. Every passing play seemed like they had the middle of the field wide open every time.
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

The rushing yards were bad but not quite as bad as it looks. Yards lost on sacks are subtracted from rushing yards, are they not? We gave up 4 sacks for 25 yards. Wilbert never got rid of the ball when he was in trouble.

FAU - THE REAL SLEEPING GIANT
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Re: Owls Can't Catch Panthers; Lose 34-24

Two things cost FAU against FIU.

1) No defense. FIU did what they wanted all game long on offense and it started with the 99 yard drive in the first quarter.

2) No running game.

I was impressed with a few things for both teams. FIU has a gamer in WR Times. FAU has a very talented receiving corps. It is just too easy to defend when there is no running threat at all.

Improve the defense and the running game and FAU could be a very good team in the SBC. Until those changes are made the Owls will be a .500 team at best.

GO OWLS!!!



You can run kitties, but you can't hide!!!
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