FAU extended their winning streak over Charlotte to 5 games in a row. The Niner’s vaunted defense seemed to have few answers for FAU’s air raid offense, continually getting gashed downfield for splash plays. Charlotte underwhelmed under the Friday Night Lights, moving to 1-3 in the AAC, while FAU gets back to .500 for the third time this season.
Here’s the game recap:
Charlotte received the ball first. The Niners started their opening drive with a run-heavy scheme, gaining two first downs to bring the ball to FAU’s 46-yard line. On the sixth play of the game, Charlotte quarterback Jalon Jones escaped the pocket, running to the right side of the field on a designed run. FAU linebacker Jaylen Wester delivered a hard hit on Jalon, temporarily injuring the quarterback. The officials determined the tackle met the criteria for targeting, giving the Niners a first down, rather than 3rd & 17. Trexler Ivey replaced Jalon for the end of the drive, going 0 for 3 on pass attempts, forcing the Niners to settle for a 36-yard field goal.
FAU answered quickly, going on a 5-play, 75-yard drive, capped off by a 3-yard receiving touchdown from Daniel Richardson to Zeke Moore. The Niner’s defense had three penalties on the first drive, giving the Owls 32 free yards.
Coach Poggi on Penalties and Unforced Errors:
“The first drive…I thought was almost surreal. We gave them 45 yards on that drive, we just made a lot of mistakes. At some point, your players have to be disciplined and care enough to play the game within the rules. When they don’t do that, they hurt the team.”
Jalon Jones trotted back onto the field to start the second drive. The Niners encountered two fourth downs, completing the first and getting stopped just short on the second.
Coach Poggi on going for it on 4th downs:
“We were 4 of 19 on third downs but we were 6 of 8 on fourth downs. I just hate making those fourth down calls to go for it, but we keep finding ourselves in those situations.”
FAU’s offense picked up where they left off. The Owls started the second quarter with a 6-play, 59-yard drive for a touchdown. Daniel Richardson connected with LaJohntay Wester for the 21-yard score, making the score 14–3 FAU.
Charlotte’s fourth-down philosophy hasn’t wavered. Coach Poggi has immense trust in his defense, citing this as the reason he chooses to go for it on fourth down so often. His decision proved to be a good one. Jalon Jones converted the 4th & short with a QB sneak up the middle, which he broke for an 18-yard gain. The Niners’ offense stalled out again after the chunk play, kicking a 44-yard field goal to make the score 14-6.
Charlotte’s defense got their first stop with 7:15 remaining in the second quarter. Defensive end Stone Handy burst into the backfield, forcing Daniel Richardson to make an errant pass for an incompletion. FAU’s defense responded with a stop of their own, forcing the Niners to punt the ball.
FAU’s offense ended the half with a 10-play, 94-yard drive, despite starting the drive on their own 6-yard line. Charlotte’s two-game streak of holding their opponents scoreless at the half was snapped, giving up 21 points to the Owls through two quarters.
Charlotte put in Trexler Ivey for their last drive of the game. The Niners tried putting pressure on FAU’s secondary by taking deep shots down the field, but their plan came to no avail. The Niners’ decision to make a switch at quarterback was puzzling, given Coach Poggi’s remarks after last week’s win, naming Jalon Jones as the full-time starter.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Miller on QB Switch At Half:
“Jalon got nicked early in the game, that was a big part of it. He got evaluated at halftime and still needed a little bit of time to see if he could go. That was a big part of it. We’ve had them both ready to play, they’re both competitors, and they’re both working hard. I’ve got to do a better job of continuing to coach them…that’s what we’re here to do.”
Charlotte defensive end Eyabi Okie-Anoma received an unsportsmanlike penalty at the end of the first half, setting up the Owls near their own 40-yard line to start the opening drive. FAU used this field position to continue their offensive onslaught. The Owls went on a 3-play, 57-yard drive for a touchdown, making the score 28-6. The time of possession battle was heavily misleading. FAU’s longest drive only lasted 3 minutes and 16 seconds.
Coach Osborn on Defensive Performance:
“They weren’t ready to play and that falls on me. For the first seven games our guys have played really hard for the most part and given great effort, but the execution falls on me. We had opportunities to get off the field, some we did, some we didn’t. They have a couple of good receivers with #1 and #8, our plan was to give some different presentations from a shell look or middle field closed look and play coverages accordingly…overall I think all three levels have issues we have to fix, but the plan wasn’t good enough so I have to put them in better positions to do things they do well.”
Trexler Ivey started the second half for the Niners, leading them downfield on a 6-play drive ending in a touchdown pass to tight end Jake Clemons. The Niners put together two scoring drives in a row, leaning heavily on running back Terron Kellman. Charlotte’s rushing attack saw a healthy uptick in the second half, allowing them to move downfield for a 44-yard field goal by Kyle Cunanan (28-16).
FAU seemed to have an answer for every punch thrown by the Niners. The Owls made a quarterback switch of their own late in the third quarter after Demetrius Knight delivered a late hit on Daniel Richardson. Redshirt Junior quarterback Michael Johnson Jr. replaced Richardson, doing just enough for the Owls to kick a 38-yard field goal at the end of the third (31-16).
Charlotte’s defense forced the first and only turnover of the game late in the fourth quarter. Daniel Richardson’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and picked off by cornerback CJ Burton, his first interception as a Charlotte 49er.
Charlotte made another switch at quarterback, putting Jalon Jones back into the game following a hit on Trexler Ivey after he scrambled out of the pocket. FAU did not let up when they got the ball back, scoring another touchdown late in the fourth quarter to extend the lead to 38-16.
Final Score: 38-16
The Niners finished the game with Dom Shoffner at quarterback, after Jalon Jones and Trexler Ivey were unable to return due to injuries sustained in the game. Coach Poggi did not comment on the specific injuries and the severity of them. Running back Shadrick Byrd left the game with an ankle injury, and center Jonny King did not return with a knee injury. The Niners will use this week to watch film and clean up mistakes, before facing Tulsa next week on the road.