The Florida Atlantic football team suffered a deflating 24-8 defeat at home to the nationally-ranked Tulane Green Wave on Saturday afternoon at Howard Schnellenberger Field.
Their overall record falls to 4-7 with the loss and sees them fall to sixth place in the conference standings with a 3-4 showing in AAC play. They stay behind No. 17 Tulane, SMU, UTSA, Memphis, and Navy. Not only does this give FAU their first losing record at home since 2018, this also officially ends their chances of securing bowl eligibility, leaving them with just one game remaining in the regular season.
"Hats off to Coach Fritz and his offense. I've had a ton of respect for him ever since I got into coaching. That's a hell of a team led by a hell of a man and a hell of a quarterback. I have a feeling they're going to have something to say in this conference title race as we head down the stretch," head coach Tom Herman said.
There was room for optimism, as it was a special day for the seniors on the team. Casey Thompson, Larry McCammon III, Romain Mungin, Jarron Morris, Armani Eli-Adams, Chaz Neal, Marquice Robinson, Carter Boatwright, Xavier Peters, Kaelen Skipper, and Tre Jackson were honored before the game started, bringing fans hope that the team could give Tulane a run for their money to entertain fans in most of these players' last home game of their FAU careers.
FAU did get on the right track, as their defense created the first highlight during Tulane's drive of the game. Outside linebacker Courtney McBride made a tough sack on quarterback Michael Pratt, forcing the ball out of his hands and have the Owls take possession. However, the offense couldn't take advantage as the Green Wave corrected their mistake with a touchdown to get on the scoreboard.
They would add on more points to begin the second quarter. Pratt fired a touchdown pass to wide receiver Chris Brazzell II, who was a former FAU commit before switching his allegiance to the Green Wave. The Owls had a scoring opportunity near the end zone to reduce Tulane's lead, but quarterback Daniel Richardson's pass to wide receiver Lajohntay Wester on fourth down was ruled incomplete to end their drive.
FAU couldn't get anything going offensively, having consecutive three-and-outs on their first two drives in the third quarter. Meanwhile, Tulane scored 10 points in that period which gave them a 24-0 lead going into the final quarter.
The Owls refused to go scoreless, finally getting points in the end zone with Richardson finding tight end Kahlil Brantley for a four-yard touchdown pass. They also got a two-point conversion to go, this time with Price catching Richardson's throw. Unfortunately, that would be the last legitimate opportunity for the Owls' offense against a Tulane defense that held them off for a majority of the game.
FAU was unable to prevent Tulane from scoring in the red zone, with the Green Wave going 4-5 in those situations. They also could not provide consistent protection for Richardson, giving up five sacks throughout the day.
Wester continues to intertwine himself with the record books. With 72 yards on nine catches, he became the all-time season leader in receiving yards, passing Cortez Gent's 1,084 yards in 2007. He also is the first Owl to record 100 or more receptions throughout any campaign. Despite this, he was not happy with the loss as he wants to be a winner more than accumulating stats.
"We got to do whatever we got to do to win. We got to get everybody on board with that. It definitely sucks to lose so we got to come back harder next week so we can end the season off right with a dub," Wester said.
Wide receiver Tony Johnson (pictured via Rick Munroe) also had a noteworthy day, gaining up to 56 yards on four receptions as he would up getting more looks to the ball compared to the past few weeks.
Linebackers Jackson Ambush and Jaylen Wester and safety Jarron Morris were significant contributors for the defense. Ambush had a team-high seven tackles (two solo) including one for a loss of yardage, Morris finished with six tackles (four solo), while Wester made six tackles (one solo).
Herman said he told his team after the game what was on his heart.
"We all got a job to do, and my job is to get up tomorrow, evaluate what we did well and what we didn't do well, make sure to enhance the things we did well, and correct and improve the things we didn't," Herman stated.
"We got a group of seniors in there, most of them if not all, who are going to be putting on their pads for the last time next Saturday and it's important that they leave this program with a good taste in their mouths."
The Owls will be fighting for their dignity next week, looking to end the season with a win on the road against the Rice Owls on November 25th at 1:00 PM, which will be broadcast on ESPN+. Rice is currently playing against Charlotte, fighting to stay alive for bowl eligibility with a 4-6 (2-4 AAC) record.