BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – Florida Atlantic University’s football team finished off one of the more bizarre weeks in recent college football history with something few believed would happen, a victory.
Just three days after head coach Carl Pelini quit after admitting to using illegal drugs, the Owls came together as a team and knocked off the Tulane Green Wave, 34-17. The Owls decided to take their names off the back of their jerseys and instead all of the players simply had FAU on their back.
“Sometimes you need a slap in the face to refocus,” said defensive end Andrew Stryffeler, one of FAU’s captains. “This wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, but we really took the opportunity to step it up this week.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Wright was promoted to interim coach after Pelini stepped down.
“It felt awesome,” Wright said of the victory. I’ve been auditioning for 18 years for this opportunity.”
FAU athletic director Patrick Chun said during halftime he wouldn’t be discussing the search for a new head coach until he names that new coach. Chun, however, did say Wright will be considered for the position, saying, “He’s absolutely a candidate for the job.”
It was FAU’s defense that delivered for the team on Saturday night. The Owls held Tulane (6-3, 4-1) to 167 yards, 105 passing.
The Owls had interceptions on four straight possessions, three by D’Joun Smith, who now leads the nation with seven interceptions.
“We weren’t going to give up on nothing,” Smith said. “I was just happy to have an opportunity to make plays.”
The game was tied at 17 going into the fourth quarter, and then the Owls took control.
Mitch Anderson kicked a field goal at 14:50 for a 20-17 lead. Damian Fortner followed with a 24-yard touchdown run at 12:06.
Jaquez Johnson capped off the Owls win with a 49-yard rush touchdown — his eight rushing touchdown of the season — with 4:46 remaining.
Tulane’s most impressive moment in the game came in the first quarter when Lorenzo Doss put the Green Wave on the scoreboard first with a 69-yard return interception at 11:05.
The win keeps FAU in bowl contention with three games remaining: against winless Southern Miss, one-win New Mexico State, and FAU’s struggling rival, FIU.
“This was real big,” Smith said. “We still have our bowl game dreams alive.”
FAU) took control early in the fourth quarter, starting with Mitch Anderson’s field goal that gave the Owls a 20-17 lead.
Damian Fortner followed with a 24-yard touchdown run at 12:06. Jaquez Johnson capped off the Owls win with a 49-yard touchdown run with 4:46 remaining.
Tulane managed only 167 yards of offense.
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