The Florida Atlantic University football squad rushed for a program-record 439 yards and registered the team's first shutout in nearly 11 years in defeating Bethune-Cookman 45-0 on Saturday night at FAU Stadium.
"(I'm) very proud of our guys," said Head Coach Lane Kiffin. "I really challenged our guys that at the end of the game, I wanted to be able to say that we finally played really physical in all phases of the game. That we ran the ball really well ... and that we stopped the run. At the end of the day, to come away with 439 yards rushing to 61, I commend the players and coaches for that. Most rushing yards in the history of the school, and first shutout in (over) 10 years, very pleased with that. I'm proud of our guys getting their first win, and it was good to see guys have fun."
The Owls (1-2) marched 81 yards on their first drive, with all six plays covering eight yards or more, but a fumble into the end zone was recovered by Bethune-Cookman (1-2)The Wildcats got into Owl territory, but sophomore linebackerRashad Smithsnuffed out a swing pass on 3rd-and-11 for a one-yard loss to force a puntFAU got on the board on the strength of the run on drive No. 2: 21 yards on 3rd-and-15 by Daniel Parr, rushes of 32 and 21 from "Buddy" Gregory Howell, Jr., and Parr finished it off from nine yards out for the early 7-0 leadThe Owls recovered the ensuing onside kick, with Ray Wilson, Jr.coming up with it, and a 72-yard drive culminated with a Parr-to-Harrison Bryant touchdown (the first in Bryant's career) from five yards out to make it 14-0FAU's fourth drive began with a shotgun snap to John Franklin III, who rushed it for 18 yardsThe Owl defense forced a 3-and-out to start the 2nd quarter, and the offense responded by stringing together a 13-play, 64-yard scoring drive. Parr ran it in from two yards out for a 21-0 advantageSophomore defensive lineman William Davisnotched the Owls' first sack of the year midway through the second quarterJust before the half, Ernest Bagner and Haiden Nageladded another to force a puntHowell went over 100 yards early in the 3rd quarter, the seventh time he's passed that plateau in his careerOn the same drive, "Motor" Devin Singletaryscored from 19 yards out to also go over the century mark (for the fifth time in two years) for a 28-0 FAU leadThe last time the Owls had two running backs eclipse 100 yards, it was also Howell and Singletary (Oct. 15, 2016 at Marshall)Greg Josephtacked on a 46-yard field goal midway through the 3rd, in addition to going 6-for-6 on points afterHowell scampered down the left sideline on a 60-yard run to start a late 3rd quarter drive, and went in two plays later from a yard out, making it a 38-0 leadThe 60-yard run pushed him past his previous career high of 138 (Sept. 5, 2015 at Tulsa), and he ended the night with 175 on the ground. That total came on just 13 carries, for a new program single-game record of 13.5 per carryOn the ensuing B-CU possession, Chris Tooleypicked off a deep pass for his second interception of the yearThrough three quarters, the team had already broken the all-time rushing record, at that point totaling 410. The previous mark was 370, versus Siena on Nov. 15, 2003. The team ended the game with 439 yards on the ground, and averaged nearly eight yards a rush (7.6). All told, they recorded 619 total yards of offenseTooley came up with a defensive score for the final margin, picking up a fumble forced by Quran Hafizand going into the end zone from 14 yards out. Hafiz led the team with six tackles on the nightThe 45-point differential tied FAU's all-time margin of victory since joining FBS (55-10 win over New Mexico State on Nov. 23, 2013)The team's last shutout came on Nov. 25, 2006, as they defeated FIU 31-0 on the road that night, and Saturday marked the fourth in program historySeven different Owls had a carry of at least 12 yards - Howell (60), Jason Driskel (24), Parr (21), Singletary (19), Franklin (18), Kerrith Whyte, Jr. (14) and Kamrin Solomon(12)Nine different Owls registered a carry and nine different Owls hauled in a catchAfter Howell's 175 and Singletary's 109 rushing yards (on only 11 carries), Whyte had 48 and Parr 38Solomon also had four catches for 36 yards, while McNeal led the way with 70 receiving yards, also on four receptions. Parr was 15-for-26 for 165 yardsThe Owl defense held Bethune-Cookman to 117 total yards, 61 rushing and 56 passing. The Wildcats averaged just 1.8 yards per carryFor Kiffin, the win came nearly four years to the day of his last as a head coach (Sept. 21, 2013, when USC defeated Utah State, 17-14)
The Owls will travel to play Buffalo next Saturday, Sept. 23, for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN3. The Bulls improved to 1-2 on Saturday with a 33-10 home win over Colgate.