The Owls had to wait ten years, but claimed their second Conference Championship in a 41-17 win over North Texas at Schnellenberger Field on Saturday afternoon.
Previously, the Owls defeated Troy for the Sun Belt title en route to a New Orleans Bowl berth and victory under then Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger in 2007.
The win gives FAU (10-3) a season sweep of the Mean Green and perfect mark of 9-0 against Conference USA opponents. They become just the second team in league history to do so.
“I think today was, just like the whole season, but especially today, all about the players,” said Head Coach Lane Kiffin. “Our players, for the ninth week in a row, played really good football. I’m kind of speechless for them."
Seeking to put victory in the hands most deserving, Kiffin (pictured left) was quick to hand the Championship Trophy over to the team while program founder Schnellenberger (pictured right) looked on.
Ironically, unlike the last game, the primary strategy was the air attack on Saturday as the Owls finished with 633 total yards and 352 coming in the passing game.
North Texas was held to just 63 yards in the first quarter and scoreless on thier first four posessions as the Owls raced out to a 20-0 lead only five minutes into the second quarter.
After getting deep into Owl territory Jalen Young nabbed his sixth interception of the season off UNT and took it back 50 yards. The takeaway was the 19th of the year for the Owls and tied the program record set back in 2007.
Devin Singletary (164 yards, 3TD) pushed a North Texas defender to the ground before finding the end zone and presenting a 27-0 lead for the home team.
That mark held into intermission as UNT marched past the 50 only to stall once again under the pressure of the FAU defense who tallied a C-USA Championship record nine sacks on the afternoon.
The Nine sacks were paced by Hunter Snyder's two solo efforts and were the most ever against an FBS opponenet for the Owls.
"The coaches…they had a a good scheme and we played extremely well today", commented Kiffin on how the team was able to do so well in the backfield.
A pair of sacks by the Owls opened the second half before the combination of Jason Driskel to Kalib Woods was again in effect as FAU pushed to a 34-0 advantage just minutes into the frame.
Woods set a new school record with 208 yards receiving after the 54 yard catch and the duo would finish with 151 yards between them.
Kiffin was quick to point out Wood's character after off the field activity sidelined the standout receiver for half of the season.
"To see him lose a scholarship and get publicly embarrassed for a bad five second decision…he's never complained about wanting the ball more, or draft status…he's played extremely well", said Kiffin.
"I'm just happy for everybody, and the team in general", said Woods. "To us winning is the biggest thing."
Woods was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
North Texas (9-4) finally broke through with 5:50 to go in the third quarter behind a 26 yard field goal and soon thereafter struck for a 77 yard passing play to complete a 9-0 run.
The Mean Green failed to convert on a two point conversion but the pass play will go down as the longest in C-USA Championship history.
FAU stalled thereafter, failing to post any points until UNT edged closer at 34-17 with a touchdown and two point conversion.
"We screwed around in the third quarter and weren't very good on offense, otherwise we would been able to hold them down even more." Kiffin said.
Singletary netted his 29th rushing touchdown late in the 4th quarter, tying the all-time C-USA record set by FAU Coach Kevin Smith (UCF, 2007).
Jalen Young later nabbed his second interception to end a Mean Green drive late in the fourth. The effort produced a new program high of 20 for the season.
"It's always amazing just to go out there and compete with my brothers", Young said. "They push me and motivate me to go my hardest and do anything to get the ball back."
John Franklin took over in the wildcat for the Owls, and raced 67 but dropped the ball in celebration just before crossing the goal line as he began celebration one second too early with onlookers in the end zone.
The defensive leaders were Azeez Al-Shaair, who had a game high 11 tackles, and Rashad Smith and Young each added seven.
Florida Atlantic will now focus attention on their impending bowl match-up which is to be determined.
With UAB accepting an invitation to the Bahamas Bowl the league has four guaranteed spots remaining and two possible secondary assignments.
The likely landing spot would seem to be the Gasparilla Bowl in St. Petersburg, which is a match-up against Conference USA and the American Conference.
The team is 2-0 in previous bowl action having beaten both Memphis and Central Michigan in back-to-back appearances in both 2007 and 2008.
- Devin Singletary rumbled for 49 yards to set up the Owls' forst score
- Greg Joseph hit a 24 yard field goal capping a 2:41 drive
- John Franklin found Kalib Woods for 49 yards onm FAU's second drive
- Kamrin Solomin then hit Franklin for a 22 yard touchdown to make kit 10-0
- The Owls held North Texas on third and short on each of thier first two possesions
- Singletary marked the Owls' third quarterback on the day with a pass to Willie Wright
- Driskel found Woods for a 44 yard pass in their third possession
- Joseph missed his second try from 30 yards out
- The Mean Green attempted a fake field goal on thier third possession with no success
- Singletary took to the wildcat for 21 yards as the first quarter wound down
- Driskel hit Woods for 34 yards to set up a three yard score by Singletary and 17-0 lead
- Driskel then found Solomin for 51 yards and Joseph hit from 21 yards away
- Azeez Al-shaair made a strong hit to force a UNT fumble, but the Mean Green recovered
- Hunter Snyder registered the Owls' third sack before Jalen Young posted a 50 yard INT
- Singletary scored his second touchdown to left corner from 5 yards making it 27-0.
- Snyder got to Mason Fine again just before halftime for his second sack on the day
- Driskel connected with Woods for a 54 yard gain to begin 2nd half scoring
- Singletary's third touchdown of the day came with 5:27 to play
- The score capped a 10 play 71 yard drive and broke a 17-0 run by North Texas
- The Owls had nine offensive plays of 20 yards or more in the game
- In addition to nine sacks FAU had two more tackles for loss and eight hurries