Sept. 15, 2012
ATHENS, GA – The Florida Atlantic football team hung with #7 Georgia for most of the first half, but lost night in front of 92,746 fans at Sanford Stadium, 56-20.
Georgia got on the board first, but the Owls roared back to tie it at 7-all with 2:30 remaining in the opening quarter. David Hinds forced a Bulldog fumble, recovered by Jeremy McKnight, to give FAU possession in Georgia territory. Four plays later, sophomore running back Damian Fortner burst through a hole up the middle and went untouched for a 43-yard score.
Again, the Bulldogs moved ahead, and again, the Owls answered. After Graham Wilbert completed a third-down conversion to William Dukes for 48 yards to the 1-yard line, three plays later, he found tight end Nexon Dorvilus for a two-yard score. Vinny Zaccario’s extra point made it 14-14 at the 12:19 mark in the second.
“I was confident coming into this game, you could see signs all week in practice,” said head coach Carl Pelini. “The speed, the execution, the assignments, the mistakes are going away. We can be pretty good. I think right now our offense made a jump this week.”
In the first half, the Owls were extremely successful on third down, going 8-for-12, and Wilbert had completed 15 passes in 23 attempts at that point for 168 yards.
Following the Owls’ second touchdown, the Bulldogs scored 42 unanswered points before linebacker Adarius Glanton picked off Georgia's backup quarterback, Christian LeMay, and returned it 42 yards for a score. That made it 56-20 with 10:11 remaining, and that would be the final margin.
Wilbert was 18-33 overall for 183 yards. Fortner rushed for a career-high 81 yards, and his rushing touchdown was his first ever on the ground. Dukes surpassed his career high in yards set a week ago, totaling 98 on just five catches.
“I think we can compete at that level,” said Pelini. “We did make some adjustments, and two and three weeks down the road, we’ll have more offense to go to. I think we’ll keep getting better, and I’m optimistic that we can continue to improve and compete as we go through the season.”
The Owls are 1-2 on the season, and play #1 Alabama on Saturday, September 22 in Tuscaloosa. Kickoff time is 5 p.m., and live audio and statistics can be found at www.FAUSports.com.