Nov. 10, 2012
BOWLING GREEN, KY - Florida Atlantic University's football team put together its best game of the season to defeat Sun Belt Conference front-runner Western Kentucky, 37-28, in Bowling Green on Saturday afternoon.
The Owls move to 3-7 on the year and 2-4 in conference play, earning their first road victory of the 2012 season, the first road win in the Carl Pelini era and the first road win since November 6, 2010, coincidently also a win at WKU. The Hilltoppers fell to 6-4 on the year and dropped to 3-3 in league play.
WKU got on the board in the game's opening series. Quarterback Kawaun Jakes drove the Hilltoppers 78 yards on 10 plays and watched Antonio Andrews carry it in from one-yard out. Andrews tallied 45 of his 58 first-half rushing yards on that drive.
FAU would tie the game on a one-yard quarterback keeper by Graham Wilbert with 13:34 remaining in the half. Wilbert's score was his second rushing TD of the season. Two drives later, WKU threatened, taking it to the FAU 31, but junior college transfer Adarius Glanton hauled in a deflected ball off a WKU receiver to stop the drive and give the ball to the Owls. FAU couldn't take advantage of the opportunity, and saw the Hilltoppers go up 14-7 on the next drive.
With 3:58 remaining in the half, Wilbert drove the Owls 84 yards. Freshman Jenson Stoshak was the recipient of a 23-yard pass and a 16-yard pass. William Dukes also got in on the action with two receptions, each for 11 yards. The final pass of the half was a Wilbert to Daniel McKinney eight-yard connection into the end zone. Mitch Anderson hit his second extra point of the game to tie the game at 14-14 with seven seconds remaining in the half.
FAU would be the only team to score in the third. FAU's Keith Reaser came inches away from an interception and was tried once more, this time successfully grabbing an out pass at the WKU 23. Three plays later. Graham Wilbert connected with Daniel McKinney for a 20-yard catch-and-run into the end zone. It was McKinney's second score of the game and second of the season.
Anderson was given the opportunity to post the first points of the fourth quarter just 42 seconds with a 47-yard attempt, and the junior made good on the kick to put the Owls up 24-14. WKU responded on the next drive with a four-play, 63-yard drive to pull within three at 24-21 with 13:08 remaining in the game.
Five minutes later, WKU would miss a 32-yard field goal wide right, but the scoring would not be over. FAU would drive the field in 10 plays and score on a Damian Fortner 4-yard run at the 3:09 mark. With the Owls up 10 and after a Freedom Whitfield interception, the game felt like it was iced as the Hilltopper fans filed out. But, a forced fumble by WKU and return of 75 yards the other way for a touchdown made the game interesting at 31-28 with less than a minute of play remaining.
The Owls recovered the Hilltopper onside kick attempt, took more time off the clock, and then Sean Kelly's punt was downed on the Hilltopper two. As Western Kentucky began a desperation drive with just 16 seconds left, FAU's Keith Reaser grabbed a hook-and-ladder attempt and ran it in from the nine for the final score. FAU would hold on for the 37-28 victory.
Wilbert ended the game 23-for-36 for 257 yards and two touchdowns, both to McKinney. Dukes hauled in a career-high nine catches for 104 yards, and the FAU defense forced four turnovers, including three interceptions of Jakes and the Reaser fumble for a score.
The Owls will play host to in-state rival FIU, Friday, November 16 at 8 p.m. FAU athletics will pay tribute to the armed forces during the Military Appreciation Game. Members of the armed forces, both past and present, will eat free at a pregame tailgate with proof of their military ID and an FAU game ticket. The game will be televised by ESPNU and on ESPN760 AM as well streamed live on www.fausports.com. For tickets call 1-866-FAU-Owls or visit ticketmaster.com.