Sept 27, 2003
NORMAL, IL--Florida Atlantic University defeated no. 23 Illinois State University, 28-10, Saturday in Normal, IL. The win was FAU's second straight, both against top-25 teams, and it improved the Owls to 3-2 on the year. ISU falls to 3-2.
"We came into this game knowing we were going to play the best team we had faced all year," Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "It proved evident with an offense that could score and move the ball, giving us a major hurdle to overcome and a defense that held our offense from scoring. That is why, I'm so proud of our football team and its effort. It was our best effort and our most rewarding performance over perhaps the best team we have played all year."
FAU fell behind 7-0 in the second quarter when Mike Souza, a pre-season honorable mention All-American, threw a 27-yard TD pass to Lauren Robinson.
FAU ended a Redbird drive via Craig Roundtree's first interception of the season. It was one of three Saturday picks for the Owls.
Both, Willie Hughley and Roundtree went up for the ball with Roundtree coming down juggling the ball on the ISU 16. He then returned it 15 yards to the FAU 31. Two plays and 51 seconds later junior Jared Allen connected with Anthony Crissinger-Hill for 67 yards and an FAU touchdown. Mark Myers evened the contest at seven.
The Allen, Crissinger-Hill connection would score once more in the half on a 9-yard pass to the back of the southeast corner of the end zone, with 2:34 remaining in the half.
"We watched film all week knowing they played man," said Crissinger-Hill. "We felt like the athletes on our team could beat the coverage and put some points on the board. It just happened that the ball came to me and I had to do something with it. We strive to make big plays."
The Redbirds pulled within four with a 47-yard field goal by Steven Carroll, just prior to the intermission.
"They have a talented quarterback, we just really wanted to stop the run, force him (the quarterback) to go on the run and see what they could do passing," said Ramon Rickards."
The Owls did not allow ISU to score the rest of the game while adding a pair of touchdowns in the second half. Anthony Jackson scored on a nine-yard run with 6:03 left in the third while Aaron Sanchez ran in for a 21-yard touchdown with 14:37 left in the fourth. Myers connected on his fourth PAT of the game and extended his 2003 streak to 12.
"Our kicking game has been good all year and it was even better in this game," said Schnellenberger.
Statistically, Allen went 15-of-26 for 226 yards and two touchdowns while Crissinger-Hill caught four passes for 88 yards and two scores. Crissinger-Hill's two TD receptions brought his 2003 single-season total to four, which ties teammate Roosevelt Bynes and Thomas Parker, who set the mark in 2001. Parker is out for the 2003 season due to an automobile accident.
Sanchez led the FAU rushing attack with 44 yards on nine carries and one TD.
"Our offensive goal was to stop the blitz," said Aaron Sanchez. "My touchdown was nice, but the effort of the offense to stop the blitz was strong and it was the difference maker of the game."
ISU out gained FAU 329 yards to 302. However, FAU held a considerable advantage through the air with 226 yards against 100 for ISU.
Defensively, FAU has allowed just one touchdown in the last eight quarters after coming off a 13-6 victory last week at Youngstown State. Individually, Joe Walker led the team with eight tackles, including five solo. Chris Laskowski had seven tackles, one for a loss of three, his first collegiate interception, and forced a fumble. Sophomore defensive back, Willie Hughley had an outstanding game as he helped to hold an honored offense including an honorable mention pre-season All-American Quarterback to 100 yards passing and a third team All-American wide receiver to 16 yards.
"We now have a rock hard defense that is playing together and learning how to take the opponents offensive pressure points away from different teams," said Schnellenberger. "The defense kept the offense, which hasn't been real consistent this year, in a position to score."
The Owls return home for five-straight games at Lockhart Stadium, beginning next Saturday against Texas State. In last week's poll, published by Don Hansen, Texas State, formerly Southwest Texas, was ranked no. 37. FAU was ranked no. 36.
Anthony Crissinger-Hill caught two TD touchdown passes to tie the all-time single-season record of four with teammate Roosevelt Bynes and Thomas Parker, who first set the mark in 2001 and is red-shirting this season.
Mark Myers connected for his 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th consecutive PAT, it brings his new 2003 season total to 12 and streak to 15.
In the program's three-year existence, FAU has faced eight opponents ranked among the nation's top-25. Saturday's game was the third, second consecutive, victory.