Western Kentucky University spoiled the Florida Atlantic University football team's inaugural game at its on-campus FAU Stadium, earning a 20-0 victory in a Sun Belt Conference game on Saturday evening in Boca Raton.
Playing in front of near-capacity 29,103 fans, the Owls were unable to generate any momentum following the pre-game ceremony, which included introductions of alumni players from the past 10 years of FAU's football team and construction workers who had a hand in making the stadium possible one year to the day since the stadium groundbreaking.
"The game and the stadium was a good and positive story for the university," said Howard Schnellenberger, FAU's head football coach. "It was great playing in front of a loud crowd that cheered for us until the very end. It was satisfying for everyone involved to see a game on our campus."
The Hilltoppers scored the first points in the new facility when running back Bobby Rainey's four-yard touchdown run capped a six-play, 49-yard drive with 8:56 left in the first half. A missed extra point put the visitors on top 6-0, a lead that would be extended to 13-0 on a seven-yard scamper by quarterback Kawaun Jakes with 9:26 left in the game. The 10-play drive featured eight rushes and covered 76 yards.
Rainey scored his second touchdown of the game with a one-yard run in the final minutes. The senior had a game-high 131 yards on 34 carries to pace the offensive attack, and had a two touchdown game for the second time this season. Jakes finished the game completing eight of his 15 passes for 85 yards.
FAU's Alfred Morris gained 27 yards on 14 rushing attempts, while redshirt junior quarterback David Kooi completed 10 passes for 79 yards in his first career start. Redshirt sophomore wide out DeAndre Richardson tied for game-high honors with four catches.
"The way the defense played gave us a legitimate chance at winning this game," said Schnellenberger.
The Owls fall to 0-6 on the season and 0-3 in conference play. The team returns to the FAU Stadium on Saturday, October 22, at 8 p.m., when it battles Middle Tennessee State University. The game will be televised as part of the Sun Belt Network and can be seen on CSS. WKU improves to 2-4 overall and 2-1 in SBC action.
Pre-game festivities featured the Balfour Beatty/James A. Cummings construction workers joining FAU ROTC cadets in presenting an American flag that covered the entire length of the field. Boca Raton resident and former "American Idol" finalist Brett Loewenstern performed the national anthem.
- Redshirt junior quarterback David Kooi made his first collegiate career start.
- Senior punter Mickey Groody has a 50-yard or longer punt in 16 of the last 18 games. He had a 51-yard punt in the first quarter.
- Redshirt freshman wide receiver Blake Bierman returned his first career punt during the second quarter.
- Redshirt freshman quarterback Stephen Curtis had his first collegiate action with a run in the second quarter. He also led the team for a series during the fourth quarter.
- WKU running back Bobby Rainey scored the first touchdown and points in FAU Stadium history on a four-yard run in the second quarter.