BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Special teams made it tougher than perhaps it needed to be, but Florida Atlantic still found a way to win a Conference USA game for the first time.
The Owls missed two extra points and a pair of field goals but had enough offense and timely defense to knock off UAB 37-23 on Saturday at Legion Field.
It was a welcome afternoon for a Florida Atlantic team that was coming off three consecutive hard-luck C-USA losses. This time, though, FAU quarterback Jacquez Johnson made sure the outcome was more pleasant for the Owls (2-4 overall, 1-3 C-USA). Johnson completed 23 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 19 times for 105 yards.
Johnson's 5-yard yard pass to William Dukes with 1:22 left in the game, followed by a 2-point conversion pass to Dukes, provided the final points of the game and finally put the Blazers away. The touchdown was set up by a 54-yard run by Johnson on a perfectly executed read option.
The Owls' offense gained 579 yards on 82 offensive snaps, and running back Jonathan Wallace rushed for 117 yards on 19 carries.
The success started in the first half as the Owls showed little sign of their recent offensive problems, partly thanks to poor defense by the Blazers (1-4, 0-1).
Johnson, showing no rust after sitting out last week, was 13 of 20 for 153 yards with a touchdown pass before halftime. He also had 48 yards rushing with another touchdown.
By halftime, the FAU offense, which came in averaging 328 yards and 19 points per game, had 273 yards and four points more than its average. The Owls were 6 of 9 on third-down conversions and punted just once.
UAB scored the first 10 points of the second half, tying the score at 23 on Ty Long's 30-yard field goal. But the Blazers were held scoreless for the final 20 minutes as they were unable to get the ground game moving. The Blazers gained just 51 yards on 25 carries, with leading rusher Darrin Reaves managing just 48 yards on 16 carries.
NOTES: Florida Atlantic played much of the fourth quarter without standout cornerbacks D'Joun Smith and Keith Reaser, who both left with injuries. ... The Owls used two kickers and both had troubles. Mitch Anderson missed two extra points and was 1-of-2 on field goal attempts. Dalton Schomp's lone attempt, from 35 yards, was blocked. ... Florida Atlantic had two runners gain over 100 yards, with Johnson and Wallace each eclipsing the mark. It was the first time this season that the Owls had a running back gain more than 100 yards.