An offense that grew more inept as the season progressed cratered in the first half of the Montgomery Bowl, preventing FAU from extending its bowl game undefeated streak.
FAU (5-4) managed only 88 first-half yards in a 25-10 loss to Memphis (8-3) in the first – and likely final – Montgomery Bowl.
The loss marked the fourth time in nine games FAU scored 10 points or less in a game.
Like it had done much of the season, and this time doing so without linebackers Leighton McCarthy (family emergency) and Caliph Brice (injury), FAU’s defense kept the Owls in the game.
Memphis’ offense drove the ball effectively throughout the first half, but a missed field goal and a Zyon Gilbert interception limited the Tigers to 10 points thought 29 minutes.
Quarterback Brady White’s two-yard touchdown pass to defensive lineman Joseph Dorceus in the closing seconds of the first half – and the Tigers subsequent two-point conversion – proved to be a death blow to FAU’s victory hopes.
Dorceus lined up at fullback on the play, scoring his first career offensive touchdown.
Missing starting guard Federico Maranges (undisclosed injury) and with fellow starting guard Desmond Noel ejected for the second half after incurring a fighting penalty following the penultimate play of the first half, FAU’s offense couldn’t mount much of a comeback.
It did, however, show signs of competency in the second half.
Nick Tronti’s 3-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Chase in the back corner of the end zone capped FAU’s opening drive of the second half. The Owls recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff inside the Tiger’s 25, which they converted into a field goal.
Memphis stopped FAU on downs following another Owls’ fumble recovery in Tigers’ territory, swarming Tronti on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1 that lost four yards. The Owls didn’t seriously threaten again.
Tronti completed half of his 32 passes for 146 yards. His final pass, a fourth-down heave – was intercepted at the goal line. Javion Posey spelled Tronti for a couple drives, completing all three of his passes for a measly five yards.
After starting coach Willie Taggart’s first season 5-1, the Owls end the year losers of three straight.
For Memphis, the victory avenged a 2007 New Orleans Bowl loss to FAU – the ever first bowl appearance for the Owls.
The Montgomery Bowl was originally slated to be played at Fenway Park, home of baseball’s Boston Red Sox, but was moved before the start of the season because of COVID-19 concerns.