Jaquez Johnson found true freshman Nate Terry in the corner of the end zone with 20 seconds left to win FAU's conference opener, 41-37.
A perfect night in Boca Raton felt like it was going UTSA's way right from the opening kick-off. The Owls fumbled twice in the opening minutes and the Roadrunners were off to the races with a quick 10-0 lead. A little trickeration on a flea-flicker to Jenson Stoshak pulled FAU within three, but it seemed that every time they scored, UTSA had an answer. David Glasco II and Jarveon Williams combined to muscle out first downs all night long and pushed the Roadrunner lead back up to 10 on the following drive. UTSA finished the night with 140 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns on the ground.
Cre'von LeBlanc played an incredible game at cornerback but his shining moment came with 4:09 left in the first half. Leblanc brushed off a previous bad play and picked off Tucker Carter, returning the interception 76 yards for a touchdown. The Owls capitalized on their momentum, Andrae Kirk intercepted a pass and Jaquez Johnson scored on a keeper from 24 yards out.
This appeared to be a perfectly fine way to end the first half for all attendees not named Kenny Harrison. Carter found Harrison for a 57 yard touchdown with only four seconds left in the half and regained the lead, 24-20.
UTSA quickly planted their foot down in the third quarter and started to run away with the game. Long drives and clutch field goal kicking put the Roadrunners in perfect position to leave Boca with a victory. With less than eight minutes to go in the game, Johnson found tight end Alex Deleon down the seam for a 14 yard gain to begin their most important drive of the game. Capped off by a spectacular touchdown catch in the back of the end zone by Lucky Whitehead, Johnson also found William Dukes and Jenson Stoshak to spread the defense and move the ball down the field.
With just under two and a half minutes to go, UTSA appeared ready to waste time and kick a field goal to put the game out of reach. Robinson Eugene applied pressure on second down and Brandin Bryant sacked Tucker Carter on the ensuing play to force a punt. Lucky Whitehead fielded the Roadrunner's punt at the FAU 7-yard line with 2:15 left to go and the Owls were back in business.
Three straight keepers for Jaquez Johnson put the Owls in striking distance. Consecutive completions to Stoshak and Whitehead had FAU on the UTSA 34 with under a minute to play. A timely offsides penalty to throw off the Roadrunner rhythm allowed Johnson to find Nate Terry in the back of the end zone for a 15 yard touchdown. UTSA would return the kick-off to the FAU 13-yard line but once again, Cre'von Leblanc made a play on the ball and thwarted Tucker Carter's pass.
Florida Atlantic's come-from-behind victory brings the Owls to 2-3 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. FAU heads down to West Miami for the 13th annual Shula Bowl on Thursday to take on in-state rival, FIU.
- I am typically a firm supporter of offensive coordinator Brian Wright's play-calling but this game was a little suspect at times. Down by a touchdown in the fourth quarter and you call a QB draw? These are not things I am down with. There was some redemption with the final two drives, but there is definitely more work to be done here.
- Jaquez Johnson looked very uneasy with the ball early in the game following last week's crushing defeat at Wyoming. He fumbled on his last real play in that game and coughed it up on the first one tonight. Quez eventually settled in and found his groove later in the first half. A *MAGNIFICENT* touchdown pass to Lucky Whitehead with just over four minutes left in the game showed excellent patience for the redshirt junior. The final touchdown pass was splendid and wow, I love Nate Terry (who?).
- Welcome to Florida Atlantic, Nate Terry. It was only a few months ago that Terry was roaming the halls of South Dade Senior High School. Now, he is a season-saver for FAU. Who said the Owls don't have tight end depth?
- Alex Deleon, William Dukes and Jenson Stoshak were extremely efficient tonight. The three veterans combined for 14 catches and 191 receiving yards.
- Andrae Kirk is the leader of this defense. He may not be the linebacker we want, but he is the linebacker we need. Kirk finished the game with a team-leading 13 tackles and nearly intercepted three passes. He pulled one down in the second quarter and I nearly fell out of my chair.
- David Lozandier's in-game pump-up video is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.
- Cre'von Leblanc was the man tonight. THE MAN. He was an absolute menace all night long and would have still been the best defensive player if the final play never happened.
- BUT THE FINAL PLAY HAPPENED. And man, did it happen. I haven't seen the Owls storm the field like that in a long time, but that sort of emotion can only be produced by true effort. FAU wanted this one more and they got it.