Owls Rout Southern Miss 41-7
It might be time for Conference-USA to start figuring out which bowl game theyre going to send FAU to.
FAU routed Southern Miss 41-7 Saturday afternoon behind 333 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground. The win improves FAU to 4-6 on the year, but with games against New Mexico State and FIU remaining on the schedule, the Owls look destined for bowl eligibility.
Interim head coach Brian Wright had stressed all week for his players to “hold onto the rope” – but Saturday they gave it one brute tug.
The Owls ran all over Southern Miss, and when the offense stalled, the defense flaunted their best performance of the season.
"We just told those guys take care of the ball, make one cut and then go north", said Wright. "Our guys did a great job with that today and the guys up front really did a great job for us."
Quarterback Jaquez Johnson racked up 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and commanded an FAU offense that didn’t need a vertical threat.
Running back Jay Warren tallied a career-high 105 rushing yards, while Damian Fortner’s 98 yards gave the Owls a third ball carrier that challenged the century mark rushing. Fortner (pictured) scored two touchdowns, and provided a change of pace for an offense that was without starter Jonathan Wallace.
FAU used a 27-point first half – that included trick plays and fourth-down conversions – to take the life out of the Southern Miss sidelines and then let it’s defense navigate the rest of contest.
Cornerback Christian Milstead returned an interception 61-yards for a touchdown, but it was the unit’s front-seven that held Southern Miss to a mere seven points. FAU sacked quarterback Nick Mullens on three separate occasions and limited the Golden Eagles to just 20 yards rushing.
"We told the team that the turnover margin is critical. It is the one key stat in college football. I think we had a 3-to-0 turnover ratio at halftime and that gave us a great opportunity", Wright said.
Milstead registered two interceptions, as the defense forced Southern Miss to punt eight times.
The Owl’s 333 yards rushing were the most by the school in a game against an FBS opponent, and Johnson passed for just 37 yards.
Southern Miss has now lost 22-straight games and hasn’t won a contest since 2011.
Conference-USA currently has six teams eligible for postseason play with only six bowl tie-ins. The conference has no secondary agreements, but additional eligible teams could be selected for a bowl game if a primary contracted conference cannot fill their bowl spot.
FAU needs two wins to become eligible and will host New Mexico State (1-9) next Saturday at 5 p.m. before facing rival FIU (1-8) on Nov. 29th.