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Defense Gives FAU Football Win in C-USA Opener

A 60-yard interception return for a touchdown by freshman Ocie Rose sealed a 17-7 victory for the Florida Atlantic University football team in its Conference USA opener at Charlotte on Saturday.

The Owls (1-3, 1-0 C-USA) set a school record by snagging six interceptions, including four in the second half and one on each of Charlotte’s final three drives to capture the win.

Rose and senior Cre’von LeBlanc each tallied a pair of interceptions, while Sharrod Neasman and Jalen Young (photo) grabbed one apiece.

“It was hard to secure the ball tonight,” FAU Head Coach Charlie Partridge said. “It rained the entire time – we have to get better at that. At the end of the day, it’s a win on the road and it feels good.”

Senior Jaquez Johnson returned under center for the Owls for the first time since leaving the Miami game on Sept. 11 with an injury. The quarterback went 14-of-25 with 144 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Jenson Stoshak led the receiving corps with five catches for 38 yards while Greg Howell rushed for 63 yards.

Defensively, the Owls did not allow a red-zone opportunity and forced seven turnovers on the night. FAU’s 139 interception return yards, led by Rose’s 60, goes down as the second-most in program history. The Owls tallied nine tackles for loss and five sacks, including three by Trey Hendrickson.

After a turnover on downs by Charlotte in the first quarter, Johnson capped off a six-play drive with a 14-yard touchdown run to give FAU the early lead.

Young’s interception ended Charlotte’s first drive of the second quarter, FAU’s Greg Joseph kicked a 45-yard field goal to extend the advantage to 10-0.

Charlotte’s Tank Norman picked off a Johnson pass and returned it 28 yards to the end zone to put the 49ers on the board, cutting the FAU lead to 10-7 with 10:58 to play.

The FAU defense, however, held strong, forcing five turnovers and four punts in the second half.

With just over a minute to play in a one-possession game, Rose jumped a route and took his first career interception 60 yards to ice the contest. Just two plays later, Rose grabbed another interception on the sideline, ending Charlotte’s night offensively and putting the Owls in the victory formation.

Following a bye week, FAU will return home to take on Rice on Saturday, Oct. 10 at 2:30 p.m.