FAU Runs Past Bethune Cookman
The ground game made it's 2017 debut for Florida Atlantic on Saturday night against visiting Bethune Cookman as the Owls ran, and occasionally passed, thier way to a 45-0 win at Schnellenberger Field.
FAU (1-2) posted 286 yards in the first period alone, and had 90 plays on the contest while averaging just 51 for the first two games.
The Wildcats were the first team FAU beat at the D1 level, and will now become Coach Lane Kiffin's first victory for the program as well.
The win was also the first shutout performance since a 31-0 drubbing of FIU back in 2006 at then Dolphin Stadium.
"I’m proud of our guys getting their first win, and it was good to see guys have fun", said Kiffin.
The Owls started off in gangbusters style, romping 81 yards down the field to the Wildcat three yard line only to cough it up for a touchback in the endzone.
Daniel Parr kept the pace going on FAU's second drive though, again leading the team 81 yards, but this time capping it with a nine yard scramble for a score.
Surprising Bethune Cookman, Florida Atlantic opted for the the onside kick following the possession and was successful.
The one-two-punch of Parr (15-26, 165 yards) and now favorite target DeAndre McNeal (4-5, 70 yards) then set up the games second touchdown - a five yard connection to tight end Harrison Bryant.
Parr ran for his second touchdown midway through the second quarter to put the Owls up 21-0, an advantage they enjoyed at the break.
Devin Singletary (photo) would join in the offense in the third quarter with a 19 TD run that made it a 28-0 affair, and capped a six-play 58 yard drive.
Marking the only special teams offensive aside from extra point activity, Greg Joseph drilled a 46 yard field goal for a 31-0 lead later in the period as the rout continued.
On the very next possesion, Buddy Howell added insult to injury with a 60 yard dash before finding the endzone from the Wildcat one.
Now down 38-0, Bethune Cookman (1-2) would toss up an interception in their next turn.
That paved with way for Coach Kiffin to insert Jason Driskel at the quarterback spot along with other reserves.
"We pulled our starters very early compared to what normal people would do because we wanted to make sure we got out back-ups in and that we also stayed healthy."
It may not have been early enough in one case, with leading tackler Azeez Al-Shaair leaving the game with his arm in a sling.
But the scoring wasn't done just yet, as Chris Tooley snagged a Wildcat fumble late in the fourth quarter and took it to the house from 14 yards out for the game's final tally.
"I really challenged our guys that at the end of the game, I wanted to be able to say that we finally played really physical in all phases of the game", said Kiffin.
Wide receiver Kamrin Solomon (48 yards total) returned to service for FAU after a two game suspension and was used in both run and pass packages.
The duo of Howell (175 yards, TD) and Singletary (109 yards, TD) highlighted a school record of 439 yards rushing on the night.
"At the end of the day, to come away with 439 yards rushing to 61, I commend the players and coaches for that", Kiffin said. "Most rushing yards in the history of the school, and first shutout in (over) 10 years, very pleased with that."
With tackling relatively spread across the roster, FAU held the Wildcats to just 117 total yards. Quran Hafiz led the way with six tackles overall.
Bethune posted 355 total yards against #18 Miami in their opener earlier in the month in a 41-13 loss.
Florida Atlantic will next travel to Buffalo for a 7:00 PM showdown on Saturday, September 23rd.
Former FAU defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni currently serves as the Director of Player Personnel for the Bulls (1-2).
The game can be seen on ESPN3, and heard locally on ESPN 106.3 FM as well as their mobile app.