OWLACCESS.COM SUPERLATIVES: OFFENSIVE MVP | DEFENSIVE MVP | OFFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR | DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE YEAR | OFFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | DEFENSIVE NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR | BIGGEST SURPRISE OFFENSIVELY | BIGGEST SURPRISE DEFENSIVELY | BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT OFFENSIVELY | BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT DEFENSIVELY
BOCA RATON – With our Offensive and Defensive MVPs selected, we’ll move on to some of the most memorable plays of the year. The 2016 season offered a surprising amount of remarkable plays, considering FAU managed only three wins. Some of the ones that weren’t selected by any of our panelists include all of Buddy Howell’s record breaking touchdown runs and all of Devin Singletary’s electrifying dashes. Joining our Chuck King and Jake Elman in offering their superlatives are three colleagues from ESPN West Palm: FAU play-by-play man Ken LaVicka, analyst Kris Bartels and producer (and host of OwlTalk) Brian Rowitz.
Chuck King (OwlAccess.com): With all apologies to Charles Dickens’ fans, it was the best of plays, it was the worst of plays for FAU. Needing a touchdown on the game against Charlotte’s final play, FAU quarterback Jason Driskel lofted a Hail Mary toward the back right corner of the end zone at the open end of Howard Schnellenberger Field. Wide receiver Karmin Solomon out-leaped two 49er defenders, coming down with the ball. Officials ruled Solomon in-bounds, giving the Owls the victory on the games final play. Until they changed their minds. After reviewing the replay, the officials reversed the call, saying Solomon didn’t get a foot in bounds, turning FAU jubilation into crushing disappointment. The play – and the game for that matter – encapsulated FAU’s season. The Owls played to the level of their opponent, then let a close game slip away.
Ken LaVicka (ESPN West Palm): Jason Driskel to Nate Terry touchdown to beat UTEP. The culmination of a 99-yard drive with no timeouts, Driskel’s exclamation point of the greatest sequence of his career was, in my mind, the Player of the Year for a unit that struggled to find it’s rhythm for much of the season.
Kris Bartels (ESPN West Palm): It’s not often that you see a team come back with no timeouts and win on a last second Hail Mary. In FAU’s case, the Offensive Play of the Year was the final play versus Charlotte. Florida Atlantic got the ball back with no timeouts and was able to move the ball into Charlotte territory. Jason Driskel tossed it to the end zone and the ball was brought down by Kamrin Solomon. The initial call was a touchdown, but we know how this goes. The officials review the play and decide it is an incomplete pass, after there was plenty of footage that showed Solomon had one foot down. FAU lost and gave Charlotte their first Conference USA win and first victory over an FBS opponent. At that point in the season, FAU lost to the team down south to open up conference play and was on a four game losing streak.
Jake Elman (OwlAccess.com): Freshman Pico Harrison didn’t do much in 2016 with only 18 catches, but his first catch of the year was easily his biggest. When a Jason Driskel pass against Southern Illinois caromed off several players, Harrison snagged the ball out of nowhere and took it 85 yards for an FAU touchdown. While it wasn’t the game-winning score and it was a play that became lost among the offensive struggles that were soon to follow, Harrison’s awareness and speed on the play should give FAU fans hope for what he can do in 2017.
Brian Rowitz (ESPN West Palm): Jason Driskel to Jason Terry touchdown to beat UTEP. After so many late home losses, you could tell how much it meant to the team to be on the other end of one of these games. In what was shaping up to be disappointing loss the offense easily moved down the field and capped it off with a great one handed grab from Terry. Would also like to add that I’m not just picking this because I was filling in for Ken LaVicka as the play-by-play voice that game.