Young Owls hold up

By Craig Barnes
Staff Writer
Posted September 9 2005


MIAMI GARDENS Florida Atlantic's young defense played like veterans in Thursday night's 23-3 loss to Oklahoma State, and if it hadn't, the outcome would have been much worse.

The Owls' defense, faced with defending four turnovers, gave up two touchdowns and neither came on a sustained drive. Oklahoma State's longest drive was 54 yards in the fourth quarter, and it resulted in a 28-yard field goal.

Oklahoma State drove a total of 95 yards for its 23 points, and the Cowboys, who beat Montana State 15-10 in their opener, were forced to settle for three Bruce Redden field goals.

The Cowboys converted three turnovers into 17 points and three more points were surrendered on an onside kick.

Freshman linebacker Andre Clark led the Owls' defense with 11 tackles and strong safety Kris Bartels had nine.

"I'm going to sleep pretty easy," defensive end Josh Pinnick said. "We are a real young defense, and we played almost the entire game in our red zone. The offense and special teams had a tough time, and we had our backs against the wall."

Each time the Owls' defense needed to come up with a big play to stop the Cowboys, it was able to do it, and the game remained close until quarterback Danny Embrick's second fumble. OSU took it 21 yards for a 20-3 with 6:28 left in the third quarter.

"I'm ecstatic with the way our defense played," FAU cornerback Willie Hughley said. "They are a big-time Division I team, and I feel our defense could play with them."

OSU, with all its chances, couldn't manage 300 total yards, finishing with 292, and the Owls finished with 220.

"Defenses can develop quite rapidly," coach Howard Schnellenberger said, "but it takes offenses a little more time. Our offense didn't gobble up a lot of yards and run a lot of clock, and we gave them the ball too many times in good position.

"Our defense grew up a lot considering how young it is."

After FAU gave up the ball on its initial possession on a punt, OSU had a 6-0 lead, before the Owls got it again, thanks to a fumbled punt and a recovered onside kick.

"It was probably the best defensive game that I've been a part of in my three years in the program," Pinnick said. "I don't how we could have played much better considering the circumstances of the game."

"They had one good drive but only got a field goal," Pinnick said. "That isn't much to hang your hat on."

Craig Barnes can be reached at