For FAU, revenge proved best served in the cold.
As temperatures dropped into the low 40s in Bowling Green, Ky, the Owls motored their way to a 42-28 victory over Western Kentucky that avenged a 52-3 homecoming spanking at the hands of the Hilltoppers last season.
“Anytime you go on the road and you win versus the defensing champs that beat us 52-3 last year – we have a lot to work on but obviously we’re pleased,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin told the ESPN West Palm post game report.
The Owls improved to 2-6 in games where the kickoff temperature was less than 50 degrees – both wins coming at WKU.
“For us this is really cold,” Kiffin said. “That’s another thing added into it – no sun out there, cold weather. It was good to see because once we kind of got it going I really felt like it put the pressure back on them.”
Arguably the best offensive player in Conference USA, running back Devin Singletary once again carried the Owls across the finish line.
His 60-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, and the ensuing two-point conversion catch by Kalib Woods, allowed the Owls to tie the score at 28.
Singletary’s five-yard run with 5:21 remaining, his fourth touchdown of the game, gave the Owls all the points they would need.
“He looked different in the fourth quarter, Kiffin said of Singletary. “He was not going to let us lose in the fourth quarter.”
That run marked the third time this season an FAU player tied the program’s single-game rushing touchdown mark of four. Singletary did it once before, as did quarterback Jason Driskel.
With his second touchdown of the game, a one-yard run around the left side, Singletary surpassed Alfred Morris for the most career rushing touchdowns in program history.
Singletary carried the ball 36 times for 244 yards, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the second-consecutive season and the 2,000 career-yardage mark.
Throughout the week FAU players stated their desire to get revenge for the way Western Kentucky manhandled them last season. It almost didn’t happen.
Entering the game with a four-game winning streak, WKU rallied from a 17-7 deficit to take a 28-20 lead late in the third quarter.
An anemic passing attack appeared to doom FAU’s chances for comeback. In arguably his worst game as a starter, Jason Driskel completed only nine passes, tallying 44 yards, prior to finding Willie Wright streaking wide open down the middle of the field for a 49 yard touchdown.
It would be the only pass Driskel completed for positive yardage in the second half, but it gave the Owls a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
FAU now holds a four-game winning streak for the first time since 2013. Marshall’s loss to FIU early in the day leaves the Owls as the lone undefeated team in C-USA play. Marshall comes to Boca Raton on Friday night.
GameBrowser: FAU (5-3, 4-0) 42, WKU (5-3, 3-2) 28
TURNING POINT: FAU trailed 28-20 and had given the ball back to WKU with a three-and-out early in the fourth quarter when nickel Herb Miller snatched momentum back to the Owls’ sideline with an interception of Mike White. Three plays later Singletary raced to the end zone for what became the game-tying score.
- FAU came from behind in the fourth quarter to win – something the Owls hadn’t done under Lane Kiffin. They showed heart and conditioning, outscoring the Hilltoppers 22-0 in the final 15 minutes. “We need to dominate the fourth quarter,” Kiffin said. “Twenty-two to nothing, in the fourth quarter, that’s about as dominating as you get.”
- Devin Singletary deserves to be in the Heisman Trophy conversation. Everyone in the stadium knows he’s going to get the ball, yet no one can tackle him. Not saying he deserves to win it, but is anyone having a better season than Singletary?
- Jason Driskel can be the best game manager ever, but eventually he’s going to have to prove a level of competence as a passer. He threw for only 93 yards on 10-of-24 passing, completing only two passes in the second half. Driskel also threw a pick. Other than the 49-yard touchdown pass, his longest completion covered 11 yards. Singletary won’t be able to do this every game. Or will he?
- FAU’s defense sure gets its hands on a lot of balls. The Owls picked off Mike White twice, but had several other opportunities when tipped passes fell barely out of reach.
- The Owls botched a snap on a field goal attempt resulting in a turnover on downs, but the special teams more than made up for it when Shelton Lewis blocked a field goal and punter Ryan Rickel ran 22 yards on a back-breaking fake punt for a first down late in the game.
1 – Completion for minus-two yards from Jason Driskel in the second half prior to his 49-yard touchdown pass to Willie Wright.
2 – Sacks for FAU, one by Hunter Snyder and the other by Leighton McCarthy. FAU consistently pressured White and missed several opportunities to add to that total.
4 – Turnovers forced by FAU. The Owls only gave the ball away once
4.8 – Average yards per rush at halftime for FAU, equalling their average yards per pass.
9 – Penalties committed by FAU. Kiffin won’t be happy about that.
14 – Tackles by Azeez Al-Shaair to lead FAU – his second consecutive week with that many.
30 – Career rushing touchdowns for Devin Singletary. He’s only been an Owl for 20 games.
63 – Receiving yards for Willie Wright on four catches. No other FAU wide receiver caught more than one pass.
368 – Rushing yards for FAU.
UP NEXT: Marshall comes to Boca Raton for a Friday night contest that could determine the Conference USA East Division title. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.