Dec 13, 2003
By JEFF PRICE
Associated Press Writer
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Chris Brown threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns and running back Jamaal Branch set three NCAA season records, leading Colgate to a 36-24 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday in a Division I-AA semifinal game.
Brown also ran for a score and accounted for 285 of Colgate's 412 yards of total offense, helping the Raiders (15-0) extend their winning streak to 21 games.
Branch rushed 45 times for 130 yards and one touchdown. He eclipsed NCAA records for carries in a season (430), touchdowns (29) and I-AA rushing yards in a season (2,271).
Colgate will face Delaware on Friday in Chattanooga, Tenn., in the title game.
The loss snapped Florida Atlantic's 10-game win streak and ended a surprising playoff run by the three-year-old program, led by former Miami and Louisville coach Howard Schnellenberger.
Florida Atlantic (11-3) won just six games in their first two seasons before earning their first playoff bid this year. The school plans to join Division I-A next season.
Owls quarterback Jared Allen threw for 266 yards, but was intercepted three times.
The Raiders charged to a 23-7 halftime lead by dominating Florida Atlantic at the line. Colgate had 205 yards on the ground and had four scoring drives of 11 plays or more.
Florida Atlantic came within two touchdowns of Colgate twice in the second half, but a pair of drives ended on interceptions thrown by Allen - I-AA's fifth-rated passer entering the game.
Brown scored on a 3-yard run after Allen's second interception to put the game out of reach at 36-17 with a little over nine minutes left.
The versatile Brown had Florida Atlantic on its heels in the first half,
throwing for 128 yards and two touchdowns while scrambling for another 55
yards. Colgate outgained the Owls 268-101 in the half.
Brown had one touchdown pass and a scoring run in the second half.
Luke Graham was Brown's favorite target, catching six passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Down 9-0 after the first quarter, Florida Atlantic closed the game when Doug Parker scored on a 1-yard run. That drive was set up by Chris Laskowski's interception.
The Owls' momentum was short lived as Graham caught two touchdown passes in a 70-second span late in the half, giving the Raiders a 16-point lead at the break.
A 6-yard scoring pass with 3:49 left in the half gave Colgate a 16-7 lead, then after a successful onside kick, Graham caught another touchdown pass, this time from 14 yards out, for a 23-7 edge.