Box Score: FAU 42, Rice 25
Daniel Parr made the start.
Jason Driskel made the plays.
FAU made record-setting offensive afternoon stand up, defeating Rice 42-25 to snap Florida Atlantic’s seven-game losing streak.
“I’m just excited for the players,” FAU coach Charlie Partridge told ESPN West Palm’s postgame show. “To see them finally sing the fight song after the victory is about as rewarding as it gets.”
Partridge elected to give Parr, a redshirt freshman considered by many to be the future of the program, the first start of his career, but stuck with the plan to insert his backup quarterback, in this case Driskel, for the third series of the game.
Parr completed one of his three passes for four yards and rushed for 16 yards on two carries.
“Both of them had good weeks of practice,” Partridge said. “Daniel really had a great week of practice – one of his best, which is what led to the decision of him to start.”
Once Driskel entered the game, he never left.
“Jason came in and lit it up,” Partridge said. “He had a great drive, came back in and played really well on the second drive, so we just stayed with that and it obviously ended up working out for our offense.”
Trailing 7-0, Driskel led FAU to touchdowns on his first two possessions behind center, completing all five of his passes for 123 yards and one TD – a 33-yard connection to John Mitchell, the true freshman’s first career score.
Driskel finished the afternoon 15-for-23 for 317 yards and two touchdowns, but he arguably wasn’t FAU’s MVP.
True freshman running back Devin Singletary set a program single-game record with 252 rushing yards, shattering a mark held by Alfred Morris and becoming the first FAU rusher ever to eclipse the 200-yard mark.
Singletary reached the end zone three times, the final one coming when he appeared to be stopped behind the line of scrimmage, only to bounce outside and race down the right sideline for a 66-yard score.
“That was a special run,” Partridge said.
FAU led 21-14 at halftime but found itself backed up early in the second half, starting its first possession of the third quarter at its own 2. FAU promptly launched a 12-play drive and by the time Buddy Howell scored on a 1-yard plunge 5:08 had come off the clock.
Florida Atlantic kept a double-digit lead the remainder of the way, countering every Rice punch with a big play haymaker.
Driskel hit Henry Bussey down the seam for an 84-yard touchdown that increased FAU’s lead to 35-17. Singletary broke off his big run moments after Rice cut FAU’s lead to 35-25.
Rice’s defense, ranked last in the nation, turned out to be exactly what FAU needed to get its offense rolling. FAU set program records in total offense (657 yards) and all-purpose yardage (771 yards) despite starting its ninth different offensive line combination in as many games.
GameBrowser: FAU (2-7) 42, Rice (1-8) 25
FAU’s offense had been terrible of late in the second half and had a history of epic collapses against Rice. Starting its first drive of the second half at its own 2 presented the kind of situation where FAU has self-destructed over the past couple years. Not this time. FAU marched 98 yards to take a double-digit lead that it would not surrender.
- FAU will have an interesting quarterback decision to make in the coming weeks. Daniel Parr appears to be the future, but he didn’t exactly take the ball and run with it (although he did have more rushing yards than passing yards). Jason Driskel enjoyed his best game. Who starts next Saturday? Could FAU continue to flip back and forth between quarterbacks? It seems likely.
- Yes, Rice is a bad team, but don’t downplay the importance of this win for FAU. In UTEP, FAU faces another bad team next week. As poor of a season as this has been, FAU can still finish on a positive note.
- What Buddy Howell and Devin Singletary are doing behind a beat up offensive line is nothing short of amazing. The combo could really be special next year behind a healthy offensive line.
- And what about that line? FAU started its ninth different combo in as many weeks and, save a few penalties, they enjoyed a great afternoon, allowing zero sacks while plowing the way to 336 rushing yards.
- Starting linebacker Nate Ozdemir didn’t play and is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury. His replacement, Jacob Douglas, was ejected late in Saturday’s game for targeting and will have to serve a half-game suspension next week. FAU is once again getting thin at linebacker.
2 – Sacks apiece by Trey Hendrickson and Azeez Al-Shaair.
3 – Missed field goals by FAU kicker Greg Joseph, who entered the day 7-for-7 on the season.
5 – Sacks for FAU – all coming in the first half.
8 – Different players who caught passes for FAU on Saturday.
10 – Rushing TDs for Buddy Howell this year, one shy of tying the FAU single-season record.
13 – Penalties committed by FAU, totaling 122 yards. FAU entered the game as the least penalized team in Conference USA.
41 – Receiving yards for wide receiver Pico Harrison, who drew the start because Kamrin Solomon didn’t make the trip to Houston (coach’s decision).
132 – Receiving yards for Henry Bussey on four catches. He entered the game with 106 receiving yards on the season.
330 – Yards of total offense for FAU in the first half.
FAU will try for its first winning streak of the season on Saturday when Texas-El Paso comes to Howard Schnellenberger Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.