All year FAU has played with fire by starting games slow.
Tonight, they got burned as UAB (5-4, 3-2) defeated the Owls 31-28 thanks to a 24 yard field goal by Ty Long with three seconds left.
It would be their first home loss of the year, and snapped a 6-0 streak at FAU Stadium dating back to last season.
FAU entered the fourth quarter trailing 28-7, but scored 21 unanswered points as Lucky Whitehead (photo) erased the deficit with a seven yard screen pass from Jaquez Johnson to tie the game at 28. With 4:03 left in the game, it proved to be too much time as UAB used a 12 play, 64 yard drive to setup Long’s game winning field goal attempt. The Blazers did not attempt a pass on their final drive.
“Fatigue probably came into it a little bit,” said head coach Charlie Partridge on FAU’s inability to stop the Blazers rushing attack that set up the game’s final points.
UAB got on the board first as Jordan Howard scored from four yards out to cap a nine play, 68 yard scoring drive on their first series. Howard was accountable for 50 yards on UAB’s first drive gaining 28 on the ground and 22 yards on a reception.
“They got a big head start on us in the first half,” said Partridge. “They made a couple of big plays.”
The FAU offense struggled to respond in the first quarter, gaining one first down on 14 total yards to open the game. The offense finally displayed life in the second quarter as Jaquez Johnson found Lucky Whitehead on a nine yard out route to tie the game at seven mid-way in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up thanks to an athletic play by freshman receiver Karmin Solomon to block a punt to give the Owls great field position inside the 20.
However, the tie was short lived. UAB regained the lead with a 2 play, 75 yard scoring drive as Cody Clements found JJ Nelson for a 78 yard touchdown pass to give them a 14-7 lead. UAB was able to score their second touchdown via a D.J. Vinson 32 yard off-tackle run to give the Blazers a 21-7 lead at the half.
The Owls (3-6, 2-3) failed to move the ball consistently and had trouble figuring out the Blazer defense. Florida Atlantic's two first down, 46 yard performance in the first half was their worst on offense since they began conference play.
In the fourth quarter, the Owls had 165 total yards of offense, and in the first three quarters they gained 157 total yards.
“We haven’t played a full game yet,” said Johnson who finished the game going 18-31 for 177 yards, and three touchdowns.
On defense, FAU limited the Blazers to 184 yards through the air but UAB did most of their work through the ground, gaining 239 yards. Blazer running back Jordan Howard finished the day with 35 carries, 175 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re a good football team, our record doesn't reflect where we are,” said coach Partridge in his post game press conference.
With six loses, the Owls will have to win their remaining games to qualify for a bowl.
“I’d love to give these kids a chance to experience a bowl,” Partridge said.