Owls Cooled Down in Murfreesboro
Florida Atlantic knew they would have to limit their mistakes in order to grab a victory Saturday. However, just the opposite occurred as the Blue Raiders raced to a 38-14 win and effectively ended any hopes of post season play for the Owls.
Things looked promising early in the game for FAU, as they built a quick 7-0 lead thanks to a Jeff Van Camp 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lester Jean. But after that things went south for the offense.
The unit wouldn’t produce anymore points in the first half, while the Blue Raiders and quarterback Dwight Dasher found some with ease.
Dasher took advantage of a beat up FAU secondary and threw a 44-yard touchdown strike to tie the game in the first quarter.
FAU’s defense responded to the score, when linebacker Yourhighness Morgan grabbed his first career interception, but the turnover didn't account for points as Gornall hooked a 26-yard field goal attempt wide right.
Dasher didn’t miss a beat after his mistake, quickly giving the Blue Raiders their first lead of the game by finding receiver Tyler Mason for a 29-yard touchdown.
“We could not quite get it done tonight on both sides of the ball and special teams,” Linebacker Michael Lockley said.
The Owls looked to score before the half came to an end, but an intentional grounding penalty sputtered the drive. FAU trailed by seven points at half and had lost all of the production they had seen from early in the game.
The defense had fared well enough against the ground game until the opening drive of the second half when the Blue Raiders marched down the filed, kicking a field goal to take a two score lead.
Already sensing they were letting the game slip out of their hands, Van Camp compounded matters, tossing two interceptions, both of which lead to points for Middle Tennessee, and a 31-7 fourth quarter advantage.
“It was another case of us beating ourselves. We had those three turnovers in the second half and that just killed us," Van Camp said. “One was a bad read, the other two we’re tipped."
Despite the struggles, he did manage to find Jean one more time for the Owls second score of the contest, when they hooked up for a 23-yard touchdown connection with ten minutes left in the game. Jean broke the century mark game for the third time this season, after catching eight balls for 100 yards, but his performance wasn’t enough to keep FAU in the game.
The Owls would fail to recover an onside kick attempt, and the Blue Raiders would score again on a long touchdown run from running back Phillip Tanner to bring the score to 38-14.
“They made the plays that we did not make, caught the balls that we did not catch and they got the breaks that we did not get it", Lockley said. "They flat out beat us. The scoreboard does not lie."
Dasher was once again the villain for FAU’s defense, accounting for four total touchdowns and 220-yards of offense. But he wasn't the only issue.
"They really stopped running with Dwight (Dasher) in the second half, it became a running back show", defensive lineman Dino Cox said. "Including myself, the d-line really let down the team tonight."
Tanner, who was one of those running backs, became the second in a row to rush for 100 yards or more against the Owls after finishing with 150 yards on the day.
MTSU's 445 yards of total offense was the second highest total for an opponent this season, and comes directly on the heels of a 522 outpouring by Texas a week ago.
FAU’s 256 yards of offense was the third lowest mark on the season, and their fourteen points was the lowest total since a field goal at USF.
“We got beat soundly today by a very good football team", said coach Howard Schnellenberger. "It has been a long time since I have had a football team get beaten so decisively in every aspect of the game."
FAU returns home to Lockhart Stadium next Saturday taking on Troy in the 2010 season finale. Kick off is set for 2:00 p.m.
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