Season Finale spoiled, Rice defeats FAU 24-21


By Robbie Lastella

Rice Owls 24 – FAU Owls 21


It was a hard fought battle of the Owls in the season finale. FAU competed to the very end trying to play spoiler, but Rice held on; clinching bowl eligibility and defeating FAU 24-21. 

After the game Hagerty Family Head Football Coach Tom Herman gave his thoughts on the tough loss.

“Obviously not the result that we wanted… but what I told the team after the game is don’t get used to this feeling. Something I worry about is when you lose 4 straight to end the season that’s a feeling that can sink in and we got to make sure for the guys that are coming back that it doesn’t,” Coach Herman said. 

The game started off with a bang for FAU. On the first offensive play of the game Senior Kobe Lewis took the carry 75 yards to the house, putting the Owls up 7-0 early. 

After both sides of the Owls traded punts, Rice got the ball back with 6:28 to play in the 1st quarter. The Owls marched down the field in 6 plays using just over 3 minutes of clock, converting for a 20 yard passing TD to tie the game at 7 with 3:04 to play in the 1st quarter. 

The second quarter was a defensive showcase for both teams, as Daedae Hill was able to come up with an interception for FAU and Rice forced 2 punts. Hill played strongly today and all season for the Owls, and after the game Coach Herman gave his thoughts on his performance and what he can improve on.

“Daedae is our best cover guy and we’re excited to have him back. Daedae has got to get more physical in the run game he knows that and is trying. I thought that from a coverage standpoint he played pretty well,” Herman said.

Rice got the ball left with 3:38 to go in the second quarter and chewed the remainder of the quarter away, converting a field goal to go up 10-7 at half. After the game Coach Herman talked about how Rice was able to use time of possession to their advantage. 

“They played a little bit more disciplined than we did obviously, to the tune of 81 plays to 43,” Coach Herman said.


The second half started great for FAU, forcing a 3 and out defensively on the first drive of the half and setting the offense up 1st and 10 at their 39. The offense capitalized quickly, scoring in just under 2 minutes on 4 plays. FAU scored on a Richardson to Johnson 36 yard pass, putting FAU up 14-10 with 12:36 to play in the 3rd quarter. 

Rice responded, but not quickly. Rice used over 5 minutes of clock and 13 total plays, cashing in on a 7 yard touchdown pass to Luke McCaffery. This gave Rice a 17-14 lead with 7:27 to play in the 3rd quarter. 

FAU was unable to respond in the 3rd quarter, getting a first down on the ensuing drive before falling flat and punting it back to Rice with 4:29 to go in the quarter. 

Rice was ready to roll once again. This time using the final 4:29 of the 3rd quarter totaling 10 plays to find the endzone. Rice converted on an 11 yard completion to Boden Groen in the endzone, and took a 24-14 lead into the final quarter of play. 

FAU was not going down without a fight and they opened up the 4th quarter on a strong note. With Tyriq Starks at Qb and freshman running back Xavier Terrell in the game the Owls moved quickly, gaining 35 on one carry from Terrell and setting themselves up inside the redzone.

Michael Johnson Jr took over on the goal line and punched it in for the Owls on a 6 yard QB keeper, cutting the Rice lead to 24-21 with 12:25 to play. Coach Herman talked about the strong play of Terrell recently and what he can improve upon. 

“Today a little bit more extensive action, he did hit a crease one or two times, but also probably missed a cut here and there. So I thought the promise is certainly there and the potential but we’ve got to clean up some of our reads. I thought it was good to see him and his youth provide a little bit of positivity when you look at that position in the future,” Herman said. 

FAU battled hard over the final 12 minutes of play but were unable to capitalize on their final possessions in the game. Rice chewed about 6 minutes of clock on their second to last drive of this game, ultimately being stopped on 4th down at the FAU 21.

FAU got the ball back with 1:37 to play, but was unable to get anything cooking. FAU went 4 and out, closing the door on an underwhelming season for FAU. An unfortunate finish to the season, but Coach Herman wants his seniors to know that their impact on this program will not go for nothing. 

“I told them that this is a different team. You look at the record. I say turn on the film. We’re fighting, we’re scratching, we’re clawing. We just gotta do it better with more depth. I told the seniors when we win a conference championship around here they are going to get a ring because of the hard work and dedication to a new staff coming in. And obviously a lot of things changed for the better, although we still got a lot of work to do to make sure that is seen on the scoreboard,” Coach Herman said. 

A tough season indeed for the Owls, but Coach Herman is going to look to learn from this loss and the season as a whole. 

“There is no such thing as failure unless you don’t learn from it. We’ve got a whole new season ahead of us and one that’s going to include a lot of new faces too. The ones that stick around they understand now and have had a taste of a couple big wins and a taste of this stretch here to end the season. I think they realize that a lot of it comes down to attention to detail but I think  they’re all confident in the way that we’re doing things and operating. It’s about building blocks, that’s what this season is, we need to learn from the errors of our ways,” Coach Herman said. 

The Owls will get to work in the offseason to prepare for year 2 of the Herman era. For now, the 2023 season has come to a close for FAU and it will be interesting to see what moves will be made in the upcoming months. 


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