FAU vs North TexasDefensive back Keith Reaser tackling North Texas Brelan Chancellor. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasDefensive back Keith Reaser nabbs his first interception of the season to set up the Owls’ first scoring drive. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasRunning back Damian Fortner sprints to the corner for an 11-yard touchdown run. Fortner had a team high 17 carries for 63 yards with 1 touchdown. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasQuarterback Graham Wilbert races outside the pocket to gain positive yards. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasCoach Carl Pelini can only watch from the sideline as the Owls fail to do anything consistently in loss to North Texas. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasDefensive back D’Joun Smith races for 32-yards on a kickoff return to kick start the Owls’ offense with good field position. This would be Smith’s only return of the game. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasWide receiver Byron Hankerson tries to muscle out of would be tackler Hilbert Jackson to record his second catch of the night. Hankerson finished the game with four catches for 36 yards. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
FAU vs North TexasQuarterback Graham Wilbert carried the ball eight times for 19 yards including this 11-yard gain, which was FAU’s second longest rushing play of the night. Photo by Melissa Landolfa.
Coming off back-to-back SEC road games against top ten opponents, the Owls returned home for a seemingly more easy game against Sun Belt opponent North Texas. However, it ended up being more of the same, as the Owls lost 20-14 to the Mean Green at FAU Football Stadium.
FAU (1-4, 0-2 in Sun Belt play) rallied to cut a 17-0 deficit to within three points, but fell short to drop their fourth straight game.
With 3:42 left in the game, the Owls had the chance to take the lead and capture their first win in conference play. On fourth and 6 from their 24-yard line, Wilbert’s intended pass to Antoinne Jimmerson was fired incomplete out-of-bounds. FAU had no timeouts left and North Texas milked the clock to end the game.
After sputtering throughout the game, the Owls offense finally got on track with a 9-play, 73-yard drive capped off with an 11-yard touchdown run by Damian Fortner. On the ensuing drive, Keith Reaser grabbed an interception, setting up the Owls with a short field. On the very next play, Wilbert scored on an 11-yard option run, putting the score at 17-14 early in the fourth quarter.
“At that moment, everybody was hype, everybody was up. It really seemed like the momentum had changed sides,” Owls cornerback Keith Reaser said. “We just didn’t finish it up.”
The Owls scored their pair of touchdowns within 90 seconds.
“The whole offense, we played better the second half, everybody,” Wilbert said before explaining the reason FAU lost. “Especially in the first half with the turnovers, that killed us and that was the difference.”
North Texas answered back with a drive of their own, taking 7:18 off the clock. The 16-play drive resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Zach Olen, making the score 20-14. The drive was aided by two personal foul penalties, with each being on fourth down field goal attempts. The penalties gave the Mean Green more chances to take time off the clock.
“It gobbled up a lot of time,” Owls head coach Carl Pelini said. “The first one the guy just went straight up in the air and the guy steps right into you so I’m just gonna have to defer to the officials on that one. The second one was just a bad football play.”
FAU failed to build on the two scoring drives as each of their last two failed to record a first down.
In the first half, Wilbert threw interceptions on back-to-back passes. It appeared FAU was going to score a first quarter home touchdown for the first time this season but Wilbert’s pass was intercepted by Marcus Trice in the endzone for a touchback.Within the next few plays, North Texas capitalized by taking a shot deep as Derek Thompson and Brelan Chancellor connected for a 68-yard touchdown pass.
Both the Owls and Mean Green failed to capitalize on several opportunities as multiple passes were misfired and line protection continued to break down. The Owls know their mental errors cost them the game.
“Just a lack of execution. A lack of focus,” Fortner said. “We all got to come in. We’ve got to settle down. We’ve got to focus on what we’ve got to do. Our fundamentals, techniques, and just go out and execute. That’s what we were lacking.”
The second quarter started off with a bit of trickery as FAU surprisingly attempted a fake punt in their territory but failed to capture the first down coming up a few yards short.
With a short field, North Texas only had to go 13 yards for Olen to nail a 48-yard field goal, making the score 10-0 in the second quarter.
Like the first quarter, FAU was again in the red-zone in the second quarter but failed to put any points on the board right before the half as Wilbert was sacked and fumbled the ball resulting in a turnover.
For the game, FAU lost the turnover battle 3-1, with two of those coming in the red zone.
The margin of defeat did not console the Owls. The final result is all that matters to them.
“Any game that’s a loss is frustrating. When we take the field, we’re trying to win every game,” Fortner said. “A loss is a loss.”
FAU has a bye-week then plays at ULM on Saturday, October 13 at 8 p.m.