Florida Atlantic doesn't get the season-ending victory it was looking for and heads into the offseason on a down note after falling to Louisiana-Lafayette 35-21 on Saturday.
Originally published on
BOCA RATON – While Louisiana-Lafayette is headed to the New Orleans Bowl, Florida Atlantic's offseason is already underway after the Owls made numerous mistakes and couldn't stop the Ragin' Cajuns in a 35-21 loss to ULL on Saturday.
“I told the guys after the game, that’s a bowl team out there and they’re a bowl team not because they’re better athletically or they have better schemes, but they don’t hurt themselves,” FAU coach Carl Pelini said. “We hurt ourselves over and over again. Turnovers, penalties. How many points did we leave out there because we took ourselves out of drives with mistakes?”
Turnovers were indeed the killer for the Owls (3-9, 2-6 Sun Belt) and proved to be the difference between closing the season out on a sour note rather than a high one. They turned the ball over three times, which led to 21 points by the Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4, 6-2).
“All year you work ball security, you work it,” Pelini said. “And that’s on us as a coaching staff. We never solved that dilemma and we need to.”
FAU’s defense has struggled with duel-threat quarterbacks throughout the season and that continued against ULL’s Terrance Broadway. Broadway accounted for two touchdowns, passing for 168 yards and added 123 yards on the ground.
“He was an extra guy to block every time,” said senior linebacker David Hinds, who had three tackles.
For the seniors this certainly wasn’t the way they had hoped to conclude their careers at FAU, but for Hinds it was all about the experience in his four years as an Owl.
“We wanted to finish better, go out with a win, go out with an exclamation point,” he said. “But I love my guys. I’ll take whatever they gave and they gave their heart and soul.”
At the start of the first quarter it looked like it was going to be an offensive shootout. On ULL’s first offensive series, quarterback Terrance Broadway ran untouched 77 yards up the sideline for a touchdown.
But the Owls offense answered immediately when quarterback Graham Wilbert hit William Dukes deep for a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the series to tie it at 7-7.
Dukes had a record-breaking receiving performance for the Owls, nabbing nine receptions for 204 yards, a school record. The previous record was held by Anthony Crissinger-Hill, who had 183 yards in a 35-28 overtime victory against Hawaii on Sept. 4, 2004.
“He’s got great length, he catches the ball away from his body,” Pelini said. “That’s something that’s innate. It’s hard to teach. When you get a long guy that can do that, he can be as good as he wants to be.”
The sophomore wide receiver didn’t expect to have a record-setting game.
“It just developed throughout the course of the game,” Dukes said. “Me and Graham got the connection. Everyone was stepping up and everyone was working hard.”
Despite the loss, the program took a step forward following last year’s one-win season. Pelini is confident that his squad will only continue to improve next season and in the coming years.
“There’s a lot of progress we’ve made,” he said. “I expect to compete for a conference championship next year. And we’re going to see if that happens.”
GameBrowser: Ragin' Cajuns 35, Owls 21
Trailing 28-21 in the fourth quarter with about 10 minutes remaining, running back Damian Fortner fumbled the ball on the ULL 35-yard line after a gain of 12 yards. The Ragin’ Cajuns recovered on the ULL 34-yard line. On a crucial 3rd-and-4, quarterback Terrance Broadway hit Jamal Robinson deep for 45 yards, which set up a two-yard touchdown run by Alonzo Harris. The score put the Ragin’ Cajuns up by two touchdowns and the Owls never recovered.
- While FAU wanted to win the last game of the season to have momentum in the offseason, the flat performance vs. ULL can – and likely will – be used as motivation until 2013.
- FAU coach Carl Pelini wants to avoid highs and lows during the course of a season, but this year had plenty of them.
- The Owls did not play well in the finale, but overall the program showed progression this season and has plenty to build on for 2013.
- 75 – Yardage of FAU QB Graham Wilbert's touchdown pass to WR William Dukes. It was the longest play from this season for FAU and the sixth longest play from scrimmage in program history.
- 528 – Yards in total offense, a season-high for the Owls.
- 2 – Players for ULL who rushed for more than 100 yards. Ragin' Cajuns running back Alonzo Harris had 21 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Terrance Broadway had 15 carries for 123 yards.