FAU football falls to Miami in season opener

By FAUSports.com

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Florida Atlantic University’s football team opened its 2013 campaign with a 34-6 loss at Miami in the first meeting between the two schools.

Three quarterbacks saw action in the contest, with sophomore Jaquez Johnson getting his first career FBS start. Johnson threw 11-of-20 for 83 yards while Greg Hankerson went 5-of-11 for 34 yards. DJ Juste also saw time under center and rushed for 28 yards on seven carries.

Junior linebacker Andrae Kirk snapped UM quarterback Stephen Morris’ streak of 156 consecutive passes without an interception. Kirk picked off Morris in the Miami red zone on the first pass attempt of the second half, setting up an FAU field goal.

FAU punter Sean Kelly commanded the Owls in the battle for field position, booming ten punts for a whopping 415 yards on the night. His longest punt measured 61 yards, pinning the Hurricanes on their own 14-yard line in the third quarter. Kelly averaged 41.5 yards and placed four punts inside the 20-yard line.

Despite gaining 60 yards in just over two minutes on its first possession, Miami was stopped on a fourth-and-short in Owl territory by Brandin Bryant and Randell Johnson. After holding the Owls to a four-play possession, Miami struck first with a 35-yard field goal to go up 3-0. The Hurricanes would go on to tack on a touchdown on a 53-yard rush by Duke Johnson on their first possession of the second quarter.

FAU answered with a 12 play, 67-yard drive resulting in a 25-yard field goal by Mitch Anderson. That drive was highlighted by three-consecutive completions by Greg Hankersonfor a total of 36 yards through the air.

Miami returned the favor with a 45-yard field goal and a 16-yard touchdown pass on its next two possessions to go up 20-3 at the half.

Following Kirk’s interception, FAU worked its way to a third-and-goal from the one before a penalty stifled the short drive. Anderson was called upon once again and cut the Miami lead to 14 with a 20-yard field goal.

Big plays in the second half, including a 63-yard rush by Herb Waters and a fumble by the Owls in their own red zone, allowed Miami to increase its lead to 34-6 by the end of the third quarter.

FAU’s longest drive of the game was its last as the Owls pieced together 16 plays for 74 yards, chewing up 5:38 of the clock before turning it over on downs.

The Owls will be on the road for their second of a three-game road stretch as they travel to face East Carolina on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m.

NOTES: DeAndre Richardson – first catch since injuring leg in 2011 Sean Kelly – booted a career long 61-yard punt Andrae Kirk – recorded his first career interception.