Quincy Skinner and Chris McKinley celebrate after stuffing the Northern Arizona offense during the Owls 48-25 victory.
Dec 6, 2003
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Jared Allen passed for 228 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters, and Florida Atlantic routed Northern Arizona 48-25 in the NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinals Saturday night.
The Owls' 10th straight win kept coach Howard Schnellenberger on track to join Ohio State's Jim Tressel as coaches who have won national titles at the I-AA and I-A levels. Schnellenberger's 1983 Miami team won that school's first championship.
Florida Atlantic (11-2) will play Colgate, a 28-27 victor over Western Illinois, in a semifinal next Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The Owls were ranked ahead of the Lumberjacks (9-4) in the final I-AA poll, but had to play in Flagstaff because of the NCAA's decision that the McNeese State-Northern Arizona winner would have home field.
The 7,000-foot elevation had no effect on Florida Atlantic, which controlled the tempo and shut down Jason Murrietta, Northern's precocious freshman quarterback.
Twenty-six seconds later, defensive tackle Yrvens Guerrier slapped the ball out of Murrietta's hands, and Hughley returned the fumble 25 yards to the NAU 6. Allen passed 2 yards to Doug Parker two plays later, sending the Owls to a 41-3 lead with 5:27 remaining in the third.
Murrietta came in with a I-AA freshman record of 27 TD passes and 3,259 yards passing. But he struggled under Florida Atlantic's pressure, overthrowing 1,000-yard receivers Clarence Moore and Johnny Marshall often and finishing 22-of-43 for 213 yards.
Murrietta threw a 2-yard scoring pass to Tom Winn with 13:50 left in the game, and a 5-yarder to Moore 2:18 later after an onside kick.
Northern scored late on a trick play - Moore's 57-yard pass to Chris Nash.
The Owls drove 80 yards on their first possession, capped by Jackson's scoring run 2:25 in.
Allen found Bynes for a score two plays into the second quarter, finishing a drive that began with Skinner's interception.
Northern Arizona then kept a drive going with a short snap from punt formation to safety Brent Daniels, who gained 38 yards to the 24.
But the Lumberjacks had to settle for Paul Ernster's 37-yard field goal with 10:02 left in the quarter, and the Owls scored twice more to take a 24-3 halftime lead.
FAU will take on Colgate on December 13th at Lockhart Stadium. Tickets will go on sale on December 7th at 10 am for $20, $12 and $5. Call 1-866-FAU-OWLS for all ticket information.