Warhawks Clip Owls in SBC Opener 27-25
There is one major thing to expect when FAU faces the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) Warhawks.
The games are always close and go down to the wire. In 2006, FAU won 21-19. on a rainy October 27, 2007, night at Lockhart Stadium, ULM defeated FAU 33-30 in overtime. Three hundred and sixty-three days later on Oct 25, 2008, FAU avenged the defeat with a 29-28 road victory. Saturday night, the Owls lost another heartbreaker 27-25. Quick stats
ULM (2-2, 1-0) kept another streak alive. The Warhawks are undefeated in the state of Florida in Sun Belt Conference games. They are 4-0 playing at FAU and 2-0 at Florida International.
It took a career game high of 18 completion's for Warhawks quarterback Trey Revell to keep this undefeated streak in Florida intact. Revell was 18-25-207 yards. The 6-5, 221 pound junior quarterback also had the first two rushing touchdowns of his career. Warhawks running back Frank Goodin had 18 rushes for 71 yards and one touchdown.
But FAU's downfall in this contest were its numerous mistakes. The Owls had 10 penalties for 93 yards. These penalties came at in opportune times. FAU kicker Ross Gornall also missed an extra point.
These problems overshadowed the fine performances of senior quarterback Rusty Smith, redshirt sophomore running back Alfred Morris, redshirt senior tight end Jason Harmon and redshirt sophomore punter Mickey Groody.
Smith had a mistake free contest as he was 30-50, 347 yards, a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.
When it comes to running backs, the name Morris is legendary in the NFL. Former Miami Dolphins running back Mercury Morris won a pair of Super Bowls in 1972 and 1973 when Coach Howard Schnellenberger was an assistant coach to Don Shula.
Meanwhile, Joe Morris led the New York Giants to a title in 1987. Alfred was born on December 12, 1988 and probably doesn't know about either of his namesakes. But on this night, the 5-11, 222 pound native of Pensacola, had 23 carries for 122 yards, a touchdown and played like his namesakes.
Harmon showed the FAU fans what they missed in 2008 when he was lost for the season with an ACL injury, by amassing 11 receptions for 132 yards.
Finally, Groody was busy as he had five punts, three inside the 20-yard line with a 38.8 average. His long of 46-yards pinned the Warhawks at their own one yard-line and FAU's junior Daniel Joseph had a safety.
After the contest, Smith was understandably disappointed that the Owls self-destructed and as a result, dropped to 0-3, 0-1. The last thing he expected was to find his team in a position where it will have to win six of its last nine games to become bowl eligible.
"When you get penalties like a 15-yard penalty that brought us back 15-yards and a holding penalty after a first down, again week in and week out we keep getting ourselves," Smith said. "We can't do that. If we want to win football games, we have to stop beating ourselves on the offensive side of the ball. And that's flat out simple. We have to score when we're in the redzone, we have to capitalize whenever it's time for us to capitalize on the two minute drill. We can't give up penalties like that. It's stupid stuff that stops drives. If we're expecting to win football games, we can't do any of that.
"How many times have I said that we're fifth year seniors and we're still making stupid, stupid stuff like that? We can't win football games that way. We can't. It's impossible!
Groody said he felt good about his performance.
"I felt good being out there today and the protection was great," Groody said. "I had plenty of time all day. I had one miss hit go with the win but that was my fault and the protection was great."
The Pompano Beach native said that while the 0-3 start is frustrating, he sees no reason to panic at the moment.
"We'll regroup, watch film tomorrow and come back next week and go to work," he added. "We have nine games left and we have to take them one at a time hoping to rebound next week against Wyoming. Rusty said it best, we didn't execute, we kept shooting ourselves in the foot and it's happened a lot with this team. We have to stop doing that."
Schnellenberger said, "Being 0-3 isn't new territory for us and we've done this quite often and have recovered. I'm proud of our football team for playing extremely hard the whole game. That football team has as much talent as we do so it's a pretty even game and has been over the years. We had hoped to even the (series) record at 3-3 and now we need the next two years to catch up."
Schnellenberger said that Smith "played winning football and he made some bad throws but completed 30 out of 50 for 347 yards and two touchdowns. That's a pretty good days work."
The play of Morris and Harmon was something Schnellenberger felt good about.
"This is what we've been expecting from Fred and when you give him the ball more times, a good ball carrier that gets more opportunities is going to spring one here and spring one there. He did that and much of it was called back. He's a very young guy, this is his first year of playing, his third game and you can imagine how much more savvy he's going to become as he plays more and how much more impact he'll have on our team.
"Harmon ran out of gas and that was too bad. I thought Jason played well but he's not anywhere close to being back to his old self. He's playing a little bit hurt, out of shape and hasn't had time to go through all the things the other guys go through to become totally conditioned athletes."
Harmon added that he was pleased to be back on the field but admitted he was a little winded at the end of the contest.
"I tried to play through it as much as I could. It was a little hard to breathe when I was out there," Harmon said. "I did get my leap back and had to get the crowd pumped up and into the game and give us more energy. I had to do my signature moves to let everybody know that I was 100 percent. It just felt really good out there."
FAU will have a chance to get into the win column next week when the program plays its 100th Game and hosts the Wyoming Cowboys at 4 PM.
Game discussion recap