The Florida Atlantic University football team saw its season end on Saturday afternoon at the hands of Western Kentucky. The Owls fell by a final score of 32-31 after the Hilltoppers converted a two-point conversion in overtime.
The first half was controlled by the defenses. After a quiet first quarter, WKU finally opened the scoring on the second play of the second period. A 45-yard TD strike from Austin Reed to Malachi Corley put the Hilltoppers up 7-0.
The Owls (5-7, 4-4 C-USA) responded on the next drive. An 11-play, 75-yard drive was capped off with a strike from N'Kosi Perry to Jahmal Edrine. Perry was 6-for-6 for 44 yards on the 4:28 march to paydirt. The teams went into the intermission knotted at 7-7.
The scoring picked up in the second half. Both teams scored on their opening possession of the third quarter. The Owls took their first lead early in the fourth on a four-yard TD rush by Larry McCammon III.
"In the past, I don't think you would've the team compete like they did", said Head Coach Willie Taggart." I think the way the season was going, up and down, I don't think you would've seen the team just keep fighting back, keep coming back after a loss. But this team is different. They love being around each other, I love being around them."
The Hilltoppers were turned away on fourth down conversions twice in the second half, but when it mattered most late in the fourth quarter, they came through. Reed hit Jaylen Hill in the back corner of the end zone with 3:56 remaining to tie the game.
FAU had a chance for the win in the final seconds of regulation, but Carter Davis' 46-yard field goal attempt missed to the left.
The Owls got the ball first in overtime and took just two plays to cash in. Perry found Edrine again, from 25 yards, out to put the home side ahead 31-24.
WKU answered with a four-play scoring drive of their own. Rather than play for a second overtime, the Hilltoppers opted for a two-point conversion to go for the win. Reed rolled out to his right and connected with Joshua Simon for the walk-off conversion.
- Perry (photo) completed his FAU career 27-for-39 with 283 yards and two passing TDs
- McCammon finished with 127 yards on the ground
- He becomes the first Owl since Devin Singletary to rush for 1,000 in a season
- Jaylen Wester led the way with 12 tackles
- Jamie Pettway finished with 11
- Justin McKithen had an interception
- Dwight Toombs added a fumble recovery
- The Owls' defense held WKU to a 2-for-5 clip on fourth down
Prior to the game, seven seniors were recognized with a special presentation.
"Me personally, I love these guys. Especially the guys that have been here since I got here, to buy into what I was asking those guys to do, and to try to help me and our staff change the culture here. I can't thank those guys enough."