Van Camp Throws for Three Touchdowns; Owls Win Third Straight
Games can be ugly at times, but a win is a win. For Florida Atlantic, tonight's 24-23 slip past Louisiana was both, as the Owls won their third straight game.
“It was some of the best football we played offensively and defensively, and some of the worst football we played offensively and defensively,” Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger said.
FAU came out of the gate with a new and efficient no-huddle package that helped the offense quickly as Quarterback Jeff Van Camp connected with fullback Xavier Stinson on a play-action pass for a four-yard touchdown to put the Owls up 7-0 on the opening drive.
The Rajin’ Cajun’s offense responded to the score with a big pass play of their own. Sophomore quarterback Blaine Gautier, who was starting his first career game, found tight end Ladarius Green wide open for a 63-yard gain. FAU’s defense however made its first big play of the night, as linebacker Malik Eugene recovered a fumble inside the Owl's own red zone.
Van Camp quickly went back to work, connecting with Lester Jean, for his second touchdown of the day. The 45-yard connection gave FAU a 14-0 first quarter lead, and the offense looked as good as it had been all season totaling 174 yards in the first quarter.
“We moved down very efficiently, we were clicking on all cylinders in the no-huddle and that’s something we haven’t really done that much of this season,” tight end Rob Housler said.
The early deficit didn’t faze Louisiana’s sideline and Gautier formulated a scoring drive his own hitting Green in the end zone for a 17 yard touchdown to cut the lead down to seven.
FAU’s offense then began its struggles, managing only 36 total yards in the second quarter. Van Camp fumbled the ball with seconds remaining before the half, and the Cajuns got possession in Owl’s territory. The defense ended the scoring threat when cornerback Keith Reaser grabbed his first career interception and the team’s second takeaway of the night. FAU lead at the break 14-7, and but the offense was looking for more production.
Running back Alfred Morris did just that carrying the ball five times on a drive and capping it off with a 16-yard yard touchdown catch, which had him stretch into the end zone for the score.
“Getting him going is very important to this offense, we run everything through him so that will open up the passing game a little bit for us,” Van Camp said.
The pass was Van Camp’s third touchdown strike of the day, and the senior signal caller showed that he wanted to get the offense going completing 11-of-18 passes for 183 yards. Morris on the other hand had one of his best outings of the season carrying the ball 22 times for 145 yards.
Despite the two possession lead, Gautier and the Rajin’ Cajuns weren’t going away. The elusive quarterback began using his feet to escape the Owls' defenders, and managed to find the end zone on a 10-yard touchdown to pull the Cajuns within seven points right before the fourth quarter got underway.
FAU would add to its lead with a 23-yard field goal from kicker Ross Gornall, but with ten minutes remaining couldn’t put the opponent away as Gautier exploited a seam in the Owls defense to raced 54 yards down the field setting up a Cajun field goal of their own.
With a seven point lead and less than five minutes remaining, FAU looked to run out the clock. However, they couldn’t accomplish that and were forced to punt.
Three plays later, Gautier connected with wide receiver Vernon Wolfe for a 43-yard touchdown pass and the Cajuns were one-point away from tying the game with 2:58 left.
Louisiana Head Coach Rickey Bustle then made the decision of the game deciding to go for a two-point conversion and the potential win. Gautier rolled out to his left and threw a pass that fell incomplete and the Cajuns came up short.
“We came here to win,” said Bustle. “We had talked about it earlier in the fourth quarter...we just didn’t get it.”
“I was surprised,” Schnellenberger thought of the decision.
As expected, the Cajuns were then forced to attempt an onside kick attempt, which FAU was able to recover to seal the win, and their third one-point victory of the season. The Owls moved to 5-1 all time against Louisiana, and 27-15 overall in games decided by seven points of less.
“We are getting to be the master of one point games. Tonight was the ‘Tale of Two Cities.’ We hung in there to the end,” Schnellenberger said.
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