By AJ Johnson
FAU Owls 56 – USF Bulls 14
For the first 30 minutes of football on Saturday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium, it looked like we were in for another FAU nail-bitter that would come down to the final minutes of the game to reveal the victor.
The Owls got in the end zone quickly when Daniel Richardson tossed a 2-yard TD to Zeke Moore less than 4 minutes into the first quarter for a 7-0 lead. The touchdown was the first of Moore’s career.
On the very next drive FAU DB Jarron Morris forced a fumble that was recovered by Amari Wansley. Both defenses were hitting hard throughout the first couple of quarters of football. It was very much “Old School smash mouth football.”
Again, FAU would find the endzone early in the 2nd quarter when Michael Johnson Jr scored from 9 yards out to stretch the Owls lead to 14-0. Sound familiar? It should as FAU has jumped out to 2 score leads in their last two games before letting both Tulsa and Illinois back in the game (ultimately losing to Illinois 23-17 and holding on to squeak out a tight 20-17 win over Tulsa)
True to recent form, USF got into the endzone only 2 minutes later when Nay’Quan Wright finished off a 75-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run cutting the FAU lead to 7 points.
FAU’s Larry McCammon had the games next score with a 3-yard touchdown giving the Owls a 21-7 lead with 5:37 remaining in the half.
Bulls QB Gunnar Greenwald, connected on a 2-yard touchdown pass to Byrum Brown to cap off a 10 play, 76-yard drive with 12 seconds left in the first half cutting the Owls lead to 21-14 halftime.
As the teams headed to their locker rooms, I couldn’t help but think that the upcoming second half of football would lead to another stressful finish.
I’m not sure what was in the locker room Powerade during halftime but whatever it was – someone needs to make sure it makes its way back to Boca.
The second half of football would see the FAU absolutely destroy the Bulls in every aspect of the game. The Owls would score 35 unanswered points and finish with season high stats up and down the box score.
A Cirque du Solei 47-yard catch by Tony Johnson set up a second touchdown run by Michael Johnson Jr. to put the Owls up 28-14.
The all-time leading FAU receptions leader LaJohntay Wester hauled in a 17-yard pass for the score. Wester then returned a 67-yard punt to house for his first career punt return TD to officially put the contest in blowout status.
USF could not stop the onslaught.
Tony Johnson who finished the game with a career high 131 yards grabbed a 23-yarder at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Running back Kobe Lewis got in on the action with a 12-yard touchdown run. That score had the Owls sitting at 56 points, the most points FAU has scored in a game since 2021.
When the clock zero ’ed out the scoreboard displayed a very impressive (if you are an Owls fan) FAU 56 – USF 14, final score.
FAU Owls head coach Tom Herman, said after the game –
“We played a really good offensive team and to hold them to 14 points, a lot of that has to come with having a 10-minute advantage in the time of possession, but also scoring points. You can have the ball for as long as you want on offense, but if you don’t have much to score for it on the scoreboard, it is not really beneficial. But to be able to score that many points as well as a bunch of guys that when their number was called on defense really stepped up. We don’t like to use the phrase ‘rising to the occasion’, we like to do what the Navy seals talk about, which is falling to the level of your training. The guys that were forced into some very key roles this afternoon were trained really well and they went out and applied their training. I was really proud to see their result.”
56 points was not the only impressive number at the end of the game. Let’s take a look at all the numbers that lead to the 56 points.
The Owls racked up 587 total yards on offense.
FAU maintained a 13-minute advantage in time of possession.
The Owls were a perfect 6-6 in red zone opportunities
Richardson threw for a career-high 382 passing yards on a career high 82% completion percentage and three touchdowns.
Wester finished with 10 receptions and 123 yards. It was his eighth game recording 100+ yards and fourth time in the last five games.
The Owls rushed for 205 yards on 40 attempts. McCammon 75 yards, Kobe Lewis 70 yards. Both runners scored touchdowns.
The offensive line allowed 0 sacks.
The FAU defense got to the quarterback with a season-high 6 sacks.
LB Jackson Ambush logged a team-high 9 tackles.
LB Jaylen Wester made 7 tackles and added his first career sack.
LaJohntay Wester made the Owls’ special teams history books with his 67-yard touchdown.
After being held to just 4 offensive touchdowns over their two previous games I asked Owls WR Je’Quan Burton about the victory and the offensive outburst.
“The win feels great, we expect to be that offense every week and when we don’t perform like we did tonight the entire offense takes it personal! We expect this type of performance week in and week out.”
One more number that I want the FAU fanbase and student body to read.
36,670 – That was the attendance of the game. The crowd was loud, the atmosphere in the stadium was electric, the players felt that and fed off of it. I challenge FAU Nation to show up next Saturday at FAU’s Homecoming game against UTSA and bring some friends. Ya’ll need to fill the stadium up, this team is giving fans something to be excited about, time for all of us to show the love. If 36,000 hostile Bulls fans on the road produced 56 points – imagine how many points our Owls might score with 36,000 screaming Owls fans in the nest.
Be sure to wear red.