A record four field goals by Greg Joseph propelled the Florida Atlantic University football team to a 33-31 season-finale victory at Old Dominion on Saturday.
“At the end of the day we found a way to win,” FAU Head Coach Charlie Partridge said. “Really proud of the way Jaquez [Johnson] handled helping coach [Jason] Driskel. We’ve needed to win a close game and we found a way to do that today.”
The Owls (3-9, 3-5 C-USA) trailed by four before Joseph made field goals from 48 and 28 yards in the final nine minutes to put FAU on top. With his 12 points on the day, Joseph moved into fourth all-time in career points in the program’s record book.
Senior Jay Warren (photo left) rushed for a career-high 150 yards and a score while Jenson Stoshak made five catches for 87 yards.
FAU won the toss and deferred to the second half. ODU turned the ball over on downs on its opening drive at the FAU 46. The Owls then marched down the field on nine plays with Warren eating up 31 of the 54 yards on five carries. Jaquez Johnson clipped another 17 yards on two carries in the ground attack to set up Warren’s two-yard TD. Greg Joseph, who was 4-for-5 on field goals on the day and perfect in 2015 (28-28) in PATs, hit the extra point to take sole possession of third place on FAU’s all-time career list for PATs.
ODU responded on their next drive with a 43-yard field goal to pull within four at 7-3 with 5:37 remaining in the first.
FAU’s third drive was led by redshirt freshman Jason Driskel. Driskel guided a six-play 55-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard touchdown run by Marcus Clark.
FAU used a balanced run/pass game to set up a 21-yard field goal by Joseph, capping a 61-yard drive on 13 plays and using 4:14 minutes of the clock. The field goal gave FAU a 17-3 lead with 6:10 remaining in the first half.
The Owls’ defense forced a punt on the following drive, took over at their own 47 and the offense used the remainder of the second half to put together a 10-play, 53-yard scoring drive that ended with a one-yard quarterback keeper by Johnson to put the Owls up 24-3 with less than a minute to play in the half. It was Johnson’s 19th rushing TD of his career, the most of any quarterback in FAU’s 15-year history. The drive was setup by two sacks in three plays. The first was by Brandin Bryant who recorded his 13.5 career sack and Trey Hendrickson followed two plays later with his program career-high 17th sack.
ODU responded with a four-play 75-yard scoring drive just before intermission to head into the locker room trailing FAU 24-10.
The Owls opening drive of the second half, led by Driskel, ended with a career long 49-yard field goal attempt by Joseph hitting the left goal post – his lone miss of the game.
ODU took the field position and scored on its first possession of the second half with a 68-yard drive that ended with a 26-yard scamper by the QB to pull within seven at 24-17 with just under 12 minutes to play in the third.
Joseph connected with a 30-yard field goal to get three points back following a 56-yard drive and 11 plays with 6:50 remaining in the third.
It only took the Monarchs 1:29 to find the end zone and pull within three at 27-24 with a 49-yard TD strike to Zach Paschal.
Two plays later, ODU grabbed an interception at the FAU 18 and used three plays to go the distance for the Monarchs’ first lead of the game at 31-27 with 4:16 to play in the third.
Driskel led the next drive and moved to the ODU 11 before attempting a fourth down pass that fell incomplete.
An FAU defensive hold forced a punt that led to a five-play, 22-yard drive led by Driskel that ended with a Joseph career-long 48-yard field goal to pull the Owls within one at 31-30 with 9:15 to play.
The teams traded three-and-outs before Hendrickson came up with another sack and forced and recovered an ODU fumble at the Monarch’s 21-yard line. The Owls got to the 12 before Joseph made the game-winning field goal from 29 yards out to end the scoring at 33-31.
FAU forced another three-and-out before eating up 2:37 on its next drive. Dalton Schomp punted 46 yards to pin ODU back on its own 13 before the defense held strong once more for the victory.
The Owls will head into the off season with a defensive base to build upon after 32 freshmen/redshirt freshmen received playing time in 2015. FAU is projected to return more than 80 from this year’s squad.
- Katrina McCormack