BOCA RATON, Fla. – (Oct. 12, 2019) – The Florida Atlantic University Owls pitched a second-half shutout, and sophomore running back Malcolm Davidson rushed for a career-high 149 yards, helping to overcome Middle Tennessee in a home Conference USA matchup Saturday, 28-13. The win moves FAU to 4-2 on the season, the team’s best start since 2004 (when they began 5-1).
“It was not a very clean game,” said head coach Lane Kiffin. “But walking off, I remind myself this is a team that beat us eight years in a row (before we) got here, and a very well-coached team … To knock off the division champs from a year ago, that’s big. If you want to be in first place, you have to stay in first place.”
· FAU (4-2, 2-0 C-USA) and MT (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) traded punts, and on the Blue Raiders’ second possession, they scored first, on a 30-yard pass
· However, on the extra point attempt, the Owls’ Akileis Leroy got the block, scoop and score, going the distance the other way to make it 6-2
· Later in the opening frame, Meiko Dotson picked off his third pass of the year
· The Owls’ offense found some rhythm early in the second. Chris Robison found Harrison Bryant for 25 yards down to the 3-yard line, and two plays later, he connected with John Mitchell from four yards out for the score and the lead
· MT regained the advantage, 13-9, on a quarterback keeper, but FAU responded with a 37-yard field goal by Vladimir Rivas to cut it to one. That was the score at the half
· On that drive, Mitchell again hauled in a long pass of his own, going for 30
· After the FAU defense forced a three-and-out and punt on the first MT series of the second half, they marched into the red zone on the legs of Malcolm Davidson, with carries of 25 and 10 yards
· The drive stalled, but Rivas gave the Owls the lead back (for what would be for good) with a field goal from 26 yards
· It was again another three-play drive on the next MT series, ending on a sack by Ray Ellis
· After getting the ball back, the Blue Raiders went for it on 4th down, but Rashad Smith batted away a pass in the end zone for a turnover on downs
· Nick Tronti saw his first action as the Owls took over, kept it himself for two carries and 11 yards, then handed off to Davidson for a 57-yard touchdown run and the game’s biggest lead (22-13, 3:23 left to go in the third)
· Early in the fourth, a key tackle for loss – for five yards by Kevin McCrary – pushed MT back, and their field goal attempt from 38 yards missed wide left
· Again, the Owls’ defense continued to shine, with a Rashad Smith interception snuffing out a Blue Raider drive and giving the offense possession at the MT 27
· Owls were able to bleed 4:15 off the clock, with Larry McCammon III punching it in from one yard out for a 28-13 lead
· Tim Bonner picked up FAU’s second sack of the day, for a loss of 13, and four plays later, Dotson snagged his second interception of the day on the next-to-last MT drive
· The Owls gave up just 185 yards in the second half, and 99 of those came on the final two defensive possessions when FAU had a more forgiving formation
Stats and Records
· Davidson’s 149 yards came on 21 carries for an average of 7.1 per, and marked the first time the sophomore eclipsed the century mark in his career
· He became the first Owl back to achieve that plateau since current Buffalo Bill Devin Singletary’s 148 against WKU on Nov. 10 last year
· Bryant paced seven receivers with four catches for 68 yards
· The trio of Da’Von Brown, Zyon Gilbert and Akileis Leroy led the way with eight tackles apiece
· Ellis had two of the team’s six tackles for loss, and now has 3.5 sacks on the year. Bonner’s sack gave him three
· Dotson doubled his season total to now have a team-high four interceptions
· Special teams starred as well, besides the Leroy block and conversion. Deangelo Antoine had a 48-yard kickoff return, and four of Matt Hayball’s punts were inside the 20, while he had an average of 42.0 per
· Leroy’s XP return was the second in program history, with the other coming in 2008, when Darian Thomas pulled off the feat against North Texas on Nov. 8
The Owls will host a second straight matchup, and it will be Homecoming, next Friday against Marshall. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. at FAU Stadium, with the game being broadcasted live on CBS Sports Network. For tickets, call 1-866-FAU-OWLS or click HERE.
– FAUSports.com –
Florida Atlantic University Athletics:
FAU Athletics is comprised of 21 intercollegiate teams involving 450 student-athletes that compete in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, volleyball, beach volleyball, cheer and dance. The Owls are a NCAA Division I-A (FBS) institution and compete in Conference USA and the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) (beach volleyball, men’s swimming). The Owls have been playing football since 2001 and are a perfect 3-0 in bowl games, the most recent being a 50-3 victory over Akron in the 2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. The dance team finished its 2014 season No. 8, nationally. FAU cheer won a national championship in 2016.
About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of critical areas that form the basis of its strategic plan: Healthy aging, biotech, coastal and marine issues, neuroscience, regenerative medicine, informatics, lifespan and the environment. These areas provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research andscholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.