FAU's 12-game home winning streak is over. They fell 28-13 to the Marshall Thundering Herd on Saturday night, a team that now owns an 8-1 record over them.
Marshall came out of the gate roaring, with Jayden Harrison returning the opening kick-off for a 99-yard touchdown. FAU would be able to tame them for the rest of the first quarter.
Starting with a 27-yard N'Kosi Perry touchdown pass to Brandon Robinson [photo] on the very next drive, FAU would score 13 unanswered points. They would force a turnover on Marshall's first possession, with Romain Mungin pulling in his second career interception and his second in two games to set up a 37-yard Aaron Shahriari field goal. A second Shahriari field goal would give the Owls a 13-7 lead.
Marshall would finally answer back with a long 10-play, 75-yard drive following Shahriari's second kick. The drive lasted 4:13 and was capped off with a three-yard Rasheen Alli rushing touchdown with 9:18 to go in the first half.
However, Alli would strike again, this time bursting for a 24-yard touchdown on just the second play of a 28-yard drive with 37 seconds left in the first half.
The defenses each held steady in the third quarter until Marshall quarterback Grant Wells hit Willie Johnson with a 65-yard passing touchdown to put the Herd up 28-13 with 1:51 to go in the third quarter.
Marshall would attempt a 40-yard field goal with 10:51 to go to try to go up by three scores, but missed the field goal. FAU wasn't able to do anything with the momentum on the next drive and the Herd held them off of the scoreboard for the rest of the game.
Ford had the best showing for FAU, despite attending a funeral and feeling sick this morning. He rushed for 138 yards on 13 carries for 10.6 yards per carry.
The Owls [5-4, 3-2 C-USA] will look to bounce back against Old Dominion [3-6, 2-3] in Norfolk, V.A. on Saturday, Nov. 13. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Here are our takeaways from the loss:
- Filling The Gap - With Caliph Brice sidelined with an upper-body injury, the Owls needed and looked to veteran Akileis Leroy to help toe the line. Leroy did just that on Saturday night, finishing with a team-best 9 tackles, 6 of which were solo. Heading into the contest he had posted an average of 5.2 and 2.5 respectively.
- Not Hanging Around - Punter Matt Hayball got some work last night, being called on seven times overall. But there was one boot he probably would like to have had back. Normally a boomer, this particular 2nd quarter punt flew low, and didn't allow FAU's special teams gunner to get downfield in a timely fashion. The result was a 27-yard return just outside the Owls' red zone which helped set up a two-play Marshall scoring drive.
- Lane Closed - The call to go Bowling will have to wait for another opponent. The Owls could have shored up the right with a win against Marshall, something they have only done two times previously at the 9 game mark of the season (2017, 2019).
- Dropped Ball - Owls dropped three would-be touchdowns, all of which came via a bomb with a receiver streaking downfield. Perry went for 15-31, which would have gone a lot better if the Owls could haul in a deep ball to diversify play-calling.
- Under Pressure - Speaking of Perry, he was sacked six times tonight in a horror show for the pass blocking. Marshall would rush no more than four defenders with great success throughout the night. Thatís embarrassing.
- Looking Bleak - FAUís chances of winning the East have greatly diminished, but itís not impossible yet. The Owls will need to win out, including a win over WKU in Bowling Green in two weeks, then hope the íToppers rebound for a win at Marshall. This will create a three-way tie in the division, with Marshall being eliminated via divisional record and FAU beating WKU in head-to-head.
- Drops on Drops on Drops - FAU wasn't able to get their passing game going at all on Saturday and a lot of that had to do with drops coming from the receiving core. Perry threw 15-29 with 202 yards and a touchdown, and 14 of those incompletions were dropped. JeQuan Burton in particular was targeted seven times and dropped all six balls that were thrown his way.
- Marshall Sack Party - Untimely sacks halted multiple different FAU drives, taking them out of field goal range and also making them settle for field goals on multiple occasions. Perry was sacked six times for 30 yards.
- Poorly Timed Fumble - Johnny Ford fumbled the ball on a 31-yard run, which was recovered by Marshall. Four plays later, Marshall scored the touchdown that put them up by two scores and put the game to bed. That was the closest the Owls got to Marshall's end zone for the rest of the second half, being shut out in the second half.