Huntington, W. Va., continues to be a an unsolvable mystery for FAU.
The undermanned Owls took a run at No. 22 Marshall but couldn’t muster enough offense in a 20-9 loss to the Thundering Herd.
FAU (1-1, 1-1) lost for the fourth time in four tries in Huntington and the seventh time in eight games overall against Marshall (5-0, 3-0). The loss snapped FAU’s winning streak, which dated back more than a year, at eight games.
Playing without six starters, most of whom had COVID-19 issues, FAU took 9-7 lead early in the third quarter on Vladi Rivas’ 43-yard field goal – the first time undefeated Marshall trailed all season.
The Owls’ lead didn’t last long. Less than two minutes later Grant Wells found Atrie Henry for a 41-yard touchdown, giving the Herd a lead it wouldn’t again surrender.
FAU did not score the remainder of the way, electing to forego a field goal attempt with less than five minutes remaining that could have cut the Marshall lead to one possession; then failing to convert the fourth-and-5 when Nick Tronti’s pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
Marshall started the scoring when Grant Wells scrambled; then dumped a pass to running back Brenden Knox, who raced 58 yards, running over a couple FAU defenders at the goal line for the score.
FAU cut the lead to 7-6 on Malcolm Davidson’s 11-yard scoring run. Marshall blocked Rivas’ extra point.
Offensively, the Owls played without both starting offensive tackles – BJ Etienne and Marquise Robinson – and starting tight end Michael Irvin because of COVID issues.
An ankle injury kept starting running back BJ Emmons from making the trip. His replacement, Larry McCammon, left the game in the second half after suffering an apparent ankle injury of his own. Emmons had to be carted to the locker room. He later returned to the sideline wearing a protective boot on his right foot, walking with the aid of crutches.
At times FAU’s offense successfully moved the ball against a Thundering Herd defense that is statistically one of the NCAA’s best, but still only produced 234 total yards.
After missing nearly two weeks because of a positive COVID test, Tronti completed 18-of-30 pass attempts for 148 yards. Marshall intercepted Tronti once. Davidson’s 68 rushing yards led the Owls.
FAU’s offensive line didn’t allow a sack in its season-opening 21-17 victory over Charlotte, but Marshall got to Tronti five times on Saturday.
The Owls scored all 21 of their points against Charlotte in the third quarter. They’ve managed only nine total points in the other seven quarters played this season.