FAU brings eight-game winning streak to Southern Miss
After two postponements and two cancellations, Florida Atlantic opened the season with a 21-17 victory against Charlotte at home last week.
The Owls (1-0, 1-0 Conference USA) face Southern Mississippi (1-3, 1-1) on Saturday afternoon in their first road outing — maybe. A potential hurricane threatening the Hattiesburg area could prompt yet another schedule change.
Florida Atlantic had games against Minnesota and Stony Brook cancelled and outings against Georgia Southern and South Florida were postponed, wiping out their September slate entirely.
The Owls showed the effects of that layoff when they fell behind Charlotte 10-0 in the first quarter and still trailed by that score at halftime.
But they scored on their first three possessions after the break for a 21-10 lead and held the 49ers scoreless over the final 13 minutes after giving up a touchdown in the first two minutes of the fourth period.
The rally made Willie Taggart a winner in his debut as FAU coach.
“It was good to get out there and see where our football team was,” he said. “We hadn’t had a game yet, and you really didn’t know what you have until you go out and play. It was good to see our football team actually play a game. I was really excited.”
Linebacker Leighton McCarthy had a huge game for the Owls, recording 10 tackles (three sacks) to earn C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors. Quarterback Nick Tronti completed 11 of 22 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Taggart will be looking for the Owls to get off to a faster start against the Golden Eagles, who are coming off their first win (41-31 at North Texas) in what has been a tumultuous season.
Seen as a potential contender in the C-USA West, they opened with a stunning 32-21 loss to South Alabama at home and coach Jay Hopson resigned just two days later. Receivers coach Scotty Walden took over on an interim basis and in his first two games the Eagles lost to Louisiana Tech 31-30 after leading 27-10 in the third quarter and were blown out 66-24 by Tulane.
“I’m embarrassed. The team is embarrassed,” Walden said after the latter debacle, but he vowed his players would “correct what we’re doing” and “come back and get better.”
Apparently, it worked because the Eagles won at North Texas the next week with Jack Abraham passing for 235 yards and two TDs and Frank Gore Jr., son of the longtime NFL star, rushing for 130 yards and a score.
The Owls have won their only two meetings with Southern Miss and will take an eight-game winning streak into the contest, which is tied with Notre Dame and Tennessee for the nation’s second-longest active FBS streak behind Air Force’s nine consecutive wins.
–Field Level Media