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The Owl’s came out on the wrong end of things Saturday afternoon, losing 42-35 in overtime to Middle Tennessee State. Carl Pelini said after the game that losing games like these is no longer acceptable. FAU flashed some signs of being a sound club against the Blue Raiders, but committed too many mistakes. Jaquez Johnson broke the school record for most offensive plays with 65.
Here’s our notes from the press box:
McKinney Leads the Way
When the game was on the line Daniel McKinney came to play.
McKinney had a career high nine receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown against Middle Tennessee State.
McKinney’s touchdown came late in the fourth quarter when he connected with Jaquez Johnson for his third touchdown pass of the game: which tied the contest 28-28, and gave FAU new life.
The Owls have had trouble in the passing game since the start of the season, and McKinney gave FAU a new threat on the perimeter.
Although the game ended in a loss, the passing game saw large improvements to what we have seen in recent weeks.
McKinney came into the game with 11 receptions on the year and had only two touchdowns as an Owl in 2012.
It is safe to say that after Saturday McKinney (pictured) will be a more likely target in coming weeks.
TE Howard Emerges
Darion Howard had just one career catch at FAU before Saturday, but finished the game with five catches for 40 yards. The Northern Iowa transfer was effective over the middle and became Jaquez Johnson’s go-to target in short yardage situations.
“We talked about it all week how the middle of the field was going to be open, and it was, so it was just easy pass and catch,” Howard said.
Jaquez Johnson favored Howard in the second half, and was the target when the quarterback tossed the interception on the final play of the game.
“He gave it a shot, and we live or die with his decisions, so we ride with twelve,” Howard said of Johnson recalling his jersey number.
"Moose" Slides to Guard
Mustafa Johnson had started 14 straight games at center, but saw time at right guard on Saturday. The Owls rotated a host of bodies after Christopher Chappell was called for a 10-yard holding in the first quarter. Mustafa Johnson was moved to guard and Stern Vile took over at center. Later in the game Chappell returned and Vinny Davino played left tackle.
Earlier in the week Mustafa Johnson, who’s nickname is Moose, was spotted practicing at right guard, but brushed it off when asked if that was something that could happen in a game situation.
Carl Pelini said after the game that Chappell and left tackle DeAndre Williams were suffering from flu-like symptoms which added to the rare offensive line rotation.
Warren Seeing Snaps
Freshman true freshman Jay Warren found himself more involved than in recent weeks.
The true freshman ended the game with six carries for 27 yards on against Middle Tennessee State.
Warren is the first freshman to play running back for FAU since Cary White did 2011.
“The mind set is just like everyone else, you have to go out there and prepare to win.” Warren said.
Although the Owls ended the day with a loss, the run game put 207 yards on the ground while trailing the whole game.
-LB Andrae Kirk finished with a career-high 11 tackles. Kirk missed the second half of last week’s game for his targeting penalty, but was effective in short-yardage situations.
-In the fourth quarter wide receiver William Dukes got his right ankle rolled up when he was blocking on the permitter. Dukes received treatment on the sidelines, but didn’t look the same after the injury. He didn’t play in the final drive of regulation or the overtime period.
-Junior running back Tony Moore received his first carry of the season late in the fourth quarter and burst to the outside for a 21-yard gain. Moore racked up 36 yards on four touches.
-Freshman defensive back Lestar Thomas saw action in the nickel package. He finished with two tackles and played extensively on special teams.
-Reggie Brown fumbled a kickoff return in the first quarter and was replaced by Cre’Von LeBlanc as the deep man. LeBlanc had a 46-yard return in the fourth quarter, which comes as a season-long for the team.
-Safety Damian Parms recorded his first career interception in the first half. Parms stepped in front of a pass over the middle and returned it 28-yards to set up an FAU touchdown.
-FAU’s 503 yards of offense was a season-high.