Florida Atlantic University football dominated the FIU Panthers (4-6, 2-4 C-USA) from start to finish en route a 52-7 win in Shula Bowl XXI Saturday night at Riccardo Silva Stadium.
It was the Owls' sixth-straight Shula Bowl victory. FAU never let off the gas from the opening snap to the final whistle.
"That was by far the best game we've played this year as an entire unit, from special teams, offense, and defense", said Head Coach Willie Taggart. "They took what our coaches gave them during the bye week and came out here and executed really well."
Taggart's post game audio can be heard here
After kicking off to the Panthers to start the game, Jaylen Wester intercepted FIU's Grayson James on the first play of the game. The freshman's first career interception gave the Owls the ball at the FIU four-yard line.
N'Kosi Perry punched in on a one-yard quarterback sneak to put the Owls on top, 7-0, a lead FAU (5-5, 4-2 C-USA) would never relinquish.
Shortly afterwards, Perry connected with Je'Quan Burton, who toe-tapped at the back of the endzone on a five-yard touchdown pass to give FAU a 14-0 lead.
The Owls added another score before the first quarter came to a close as Perry scored his second rushing touchdown of the day on a three-yard scamper up the middle to give the Owls a 21-0 lead after one.
FAU netted three more off a Morgan Suarez 31-yarder less than a minute into the second quarter to push the Owls lead to 24 unanswered.
After taking a 31-7 lead into the locker room, FAU continued to dominate the Panthers as FIU just couldn't find an answer for the Owls.
LaJohntay Wester got into the endzone for his first score of the night on a nine-yard rush to push the Owls lead to 31. With just over three minutes to go in the third, Perry found Tony Johnson for his second passing touchdown of the contest on a 17-yarder, pushing the FAU lead to 45-7.
Willie Taggart Jr. came on in relief in the fourth quarter and tallied the Owls final touchdown of the contest on a 12-yard run to bring the score to its final, 52-7.
- Perry finished the night 14-for-22 for 104 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns
- He added three carries for 16 yards and two rushing scores
- Burton led the Owls' pass catchers with 42 yards on five receptions and a touchdown
- Johnson collected 43 yards on two receptions with a score
- Larry McCammon led the rushing attack, turning in 104 yards on 26 carries
- LaJohntay Wester rushed for 67 yards rushing on three touches, including a career-long 52-yarder
- Armani-Eli Adams led the Owls' defense with five tackles, including a team-high four solo
- He added a tackle for loss, three pass breakups, and a forced fumble
- Jaylen Wester tied for a team-highs with four solo tackles and two tackles for loss
- He also had an interception, and a quarterback hurry
- Romain Mungin collected the Owls second INT
- Jake Holaday had forced fumble
- Morgan Suarez finished the night 1-for-1 with a 31-yarder
- Riley Thompson had four punts for 215 yards, including a 70-yarder
As the Owls are scheduled to join the American Conference next season, Saturday's Shula Bowl will serve as the last of the Conference USA era for FAU and FIU. The two teams will resume play in 2024 for the first a a contracted four game series to continue the rivalry.
With only two regular season games still remaining, Owls hit next the road for Murfreesboro, Tennessee to take o Middle Tennessee this Saturday at 3:30 PM. The game will be available on the ESPN+ streaming service.