TAMPA – The Florida Atlantic University football team (3-3, 2-0 AAC), took the bulls by the horns in a dominating 56-14 win over the University of South Florida (3-4, 2-2 AAC) on Saturday.
USF trailed 21-14 at the half, but saw FAU post four straight touchdown drives and return a punt for a touchdown to start the second half and run away with a 56-14 victory.
FAU produced 587 yards of offense behind 382 yards passing and three touchdowns from quarterback Daniel Richardson and a superlative day from wide receiver/punt returner LaJohntay Wester, who made 10 receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown and returned a third quarter punt 67 yards for a touchdown that broke the game open.
USF had strong offensive performances by running back Nay’Quan Wright and wide receiver Michael Brown-Stephens. Wright posted his second 100-yard game of the season, finishing with 106 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Brown Stephens recorded four receptions and finished with 98 yards. DJ Gordon led the Bulls’ defense with 10 tackles, followed by freshman cornerback Tavin Ward with eight tackles, a tackle for loss, and an interception in his first career start.
FAU scored fast on their opening drive of the game going 67 yards in seven plays and scoring on a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Larry McCammon.
Tackles for loss by Mac Harris and Michael Williams sparked life into the USF defense as the Owls were driving again. The next play, Ward recorded his first career interception, stopping the Owls from extending their lead and giving the ball back to the Bulls on their own 4-yard line.
A deep 38-yard pass from quarterback Byrum Brown to Brown-Stephens gave USF life, but miscues by the offense led the Bulls to punt.
Fueling the Owl momentum, Richardson drove FAU down the field 86 yards in 10 plays completing the drive with a 9-yard rushing touchdown by Michael Johnson Jr. to extend their lead to 14-0.
The Bulls responded with Brown throwing a 26-yard pass to Atkins, which was caught at the USF 45 and he tip-toed up the sideline for an apparent touchdown, but, on review, the play was called back to the FAU 50 with Atkins ruled to have stepped out of bounds.
Unfazed, a 27-yard pass from Atkins to Brown-Stephens on a trick play placed the Bulls near the red-zone. The next play, Wright rushed up the middle for 15 yards and then got the ball again for an 8-yard touchdown run that put the Bulls on the board.
FAU responded by scoring quickly, driving 75 yards for a 3-yard rushing touchdown to extend the lead back 21-7 with 5:30 left to play in the first half.
An 11-yard run from Brown and a targeting penalty on FAU placed the Bulls at the FAU 35. A 14-yard and 10-yard run from Wright got the Bulls near the goal line. Brown connected with tight end Gunnar Greenwald for a 2-yard touchdown pass to close the gap 21-14 at the end the first half.
To open the second half, FAU struck on their first possession driving 68 yards for a touchdown. The Bulls were forced to punt and the Owls drove 64 yards for another touchdown and a 21-point lead. The USF offense again sputtered, moving three yards before being forced to punt again. This time Wester took the ball at the FAU33 and raced through the Bulls defenders to the endzone and a 42-14 lead.