On a night in the East division where stakes were high and there wasn’t room for error, Charlotte just never found the path to getting out of their own way.
Plagued by untimely penalties and the inability to stop the bleeding, the FAU Owls took Charlotte’s will to compete and coasted to victory, 38-9 at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
Both programs failed to muster anything on their first possession, Charlotte missing a 44-yard field goal before the Owls fumbled the ball in the red zone on the ensuing drive.
Attempting to go for it on 4th & 5 with 5 minutes to go in the first quarter, a huge completion to Victor Tucker for 30 yards set the Niners up on the FAU 4-yard line, but the drive stalled and Charlotte settled for a 23-yard Jonathan Cruz field goal.
Willie Taggart’s group responded with a methodical, exasperating drive hammering it on the ground going 75 yards in 12 plays, converting on third down three separate times on the same possession, capping it off with a 3rd & Goal, 8-yard touchdown pass from N’Kosi Perry to TJ Chase.
The method to the madness for Charlotte’s woes continued to be highlighted on their responding drive. Dinking and dunking their way all the way down to the 7-yard line looking to score, an offensive pass interference call and a flag for holding on back-to-back plays set them up 1st & Goal on their own 32, before Chris Reynolds fumbled the ball forward for a turnover.
Rusty in the red zone all night, the Niners still managed to convert a play action roll-out to Grant DuBose at the end of the half to go up 9-7 due to Jonathan Cruz’ missed PAT. Cruz was visibly off his game tonight, missing a field goal, a PAT, and sending a kickoff out of bounds to start the second half.
The second half quite literally belonged to Florida Atlantic in its entirety outscoring the green and gold 31-0, accumulating 70% of their offensive output in the later stages alone.
Despite putting the ball on the ground from the shotgun on multiple occasions, N’Kosi Perry looked really solid as a game manager, relying on the chunk plays on the ground with the big play ability over the top being there all night long.
Four different Owl receivers all had catches of 30 yards or more, with three touchdown grabs on just nine receptions as a unit.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has to head home to Boca proud of his defense’s effort in the trenches, generating constant pressure and holding the Charlotte offense to just 77 yards on the ground.
First career interception?— FAU Football (@FAUFootball) October 22, 2021
That one’s for mom.
Gearing up and moving forward, the path doesn’t get any easier for Charlotte, hitting the road next week to take on a high-powered offense up at Western Kentucky, Saturday October 30th at 4:00 PM EST on ESPN+.
Willie Taggart’s group has an interesting match-up in their own right, prepping for a 6-1 UTEP team in an intra-division battle for their first home contest in nearly a month. That one also takes place Saturday, October 30th, live at 6:00 PM EST on ESPN+.