FAU falls to No. 24 Nebraska in season opener 49-3
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> Video: FAU opens season with loss at Nebraska
> Notebook:Van Camp drives offense
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LINCOLN, Neb. – Florida Atlantic’s bid to upset No. 24 Nebraska on Saturday went up in smoke as the Huskers easily defeated the Owls 49-3 in front of 85, 719 at Memorial Stadium.
The Huskers led 21-3 at halftime but exploded for 21 points in the third quarter.
“They put it into overdrive,” FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. “I asked our guys to put it into overdrive but they didn’t have enough juice.”
Schnellenberger said the Owls would have to play nearly flawless and win the turnover battle to have a chance at beating the Cornhuskers.
FAU did neither.
The Owls turned the ball over on two interceptions by quarterback Rusty Smith and a fumble on a poor snap by Ryan Wischnefski, who was making his first start at center.
“In my opinion we didn’t come to play football today,” said senior fullback Willie Rose. “We have a lot of work to do. ….We had high expectations and were confident we could make things work knowing the experience we had coming back and the work we’ve had in practice the last few weeks. But it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped.”
The Owls were able to move the ball against Nebraska, but failed to get points until midway through the second quarter.
“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot on multiple opportunities,” said FAU quarterback Rusty Smith, who was 15-of-31 for 164 yards. “
The Owls had a field goal blocked in the first quarter, but Ross Gornall kicked a 21-yard field goal with 8:13 remaining to put FAU on the board and cut the margin to 14-3.
Nebraska led 21-3 at halftime and made it 28-3 on the first drive of the second half when Roy Helu scored on a 7-yard run.
The Owls answered that score with a interception on a long ball by Rusty Smith that was easily picked off by Nebraska.
Helu then scored on a 44-yard run for his third touchdown of the game that put the game out of reach.
Helu had 152 yards rushing, including 95 yards in the third quarter alone before he was pulled from the game.
“I don’t think we hit him hard enough,” said Owls senior defensive tackle Josh Savidge.
GameBrowser: No. 24 Nebraska 49, Florida Atlantic 3
Turning point: With Nebraska leading 14-0 in the second quarter, quarterback Jeff Van Camp rolled out to his right and delivered a pass to tight end Jason Harmon in the corner of end zone, but the play was ruled incomplete. The Owls had to settle for a field goal and never recovered.
Moving forward: In his first start RB Alfred Morris rushed for 85 yards on 18 carries…CB Tavoris Hill had an interception in the second half…The Owls had plenty of big plays on offense and looked downfield more than in the past.
Moving backward: QB Rusty Smith threw two interceptions…FAU was penalized 11 times for 67 yards…The defensive front failed to get pressure on Zac Lee.
Stat download: 8.6 – The average number of yards per play for NU