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FAU Defeats Northern Arizona To Reach Semis Of I-AA Playoffs

Dec 6, 2003

Final Stats?|? Photo Gallery

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.

Quincy Skinner and Willie Hughley each got his fifth interception, and Hughley returned his 47 yards for a TD with 6:42 left in the third quarter.

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.

Allen's other scoring passes covered 13 yards to Roosevelt Bynes, who also had a 16-yard scoring catch from Danny Embick late in the game, and 15 to Larry Taylor.



Anthony Jackson ran 11 yards for a TD, and Mark Myers kicked two field goals, including a record 53-yarder for the 3-year-old program, which Schnellenberger plans to take into Division I-A next year.

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.

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