Florida Atlantic Owls (2-6, 2-3) defeated the FIU Panthers (4-5, 2-3) 24-10 Saturday afternoon to snap a three-game losing streak. Partridge earned his first Shula Bowl victory and for at least a week, FAU fans can exhale about the future of the program and enjoy a win.
Right from the jump FAU looked like the more motivated team. The offense marched right down the field and into the FIU red zone. The drive would result in zero points after FAU failed to convert a fourth down but during the drive the players showed fight. Something FAU fans have rarely seen this season.
Jaquez Johnson was chirping with FIU players, Trey Rodriguez was jumping around after first down runs, everyone on offense seemed to be having fun.
On the ensuing possession Azeez Al-Shaair and Trey Hendrickson combined for a sack-strip on Alex McGough that Nate Ozdemir recovered.
With great field position, FAU scored the game's first points as Trey Rodriguez scored from five-yards out to cap a five-play 32 yard drive.
In a surprise turn of events after the offense seemed to be gelling with a seven-point lead, Jason Driskel entered the game and engineered a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive as he scored scored from six yards out to push the lead to 14 early in the second quarter.
The first half was dominated by FAU as the Owls out-gained FIU 277-123, ran 24 more plays and held the ball for nearly 10 more minutes as they held a 17-7 lead.
The second half was more of the same.
After FIU's Taylor Austin made a 47-yard field goal making it 17-10, one couldn't help but feel that FAU was getting its fans ready for its patented collapse.
But Jaquez Johnson and the FAU offense refused to let this one slip out of the Owls hands as FAU marched down the field for a 17-play, 78-yard drive.
Partridge went for it on fourth-down two times during the drive and was rewarded with a Rodriguez rushing touchdown from two yards out giving the Owls a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.
For the first time an FAU lead felt safe.
Every time FAU touched the ball today they got into FIU territory.
The defense never let the FIU offense get into a groove, holding the Panthers to 262 total yards of offense. The defensive line was phenomenal today as Trey Hendrickson led the way with four sacks followed by Hunter Snyder with three.
After the game, all of the pent-up frustration from this season was released as the team sprinted towards the Don Shula Trophy.
Next week FAU will try to pickup where they left off and try to pull off the mightiest of upsets against Western Kentucky.