Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 09, 2007
STILLWATER, OKLA. — Florida Atlantic players believed they had a chance to beat Oklahoma State on Saturday because they were a year older and better than the last time they faced the Cowboys.
Unfortunately for the Owls, their opponent also had progressed since last year and the Cowboys cruised to a 42-6 victory over FAU in front of 38,176 at Boone Pickens Stadium.
"We didn't quite measure up, but for the long haul this is a good experience," said FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger.
The Owls said this year's game would not turn out like last year's 48-8 Oklahoma State victory. However, in some respects it was eerily similar:
• Like last year, the Owls' offense, which managed only 28 yards rushing, had a difficult time getting in a rhythm against the Cowboys.
• Like last year, FAU's defense would play well for several plays before giving up a big play - including a 77-yard touchdown pass from Zac Robinson to Adarius Bowman and a 47-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Kendall Hunter.
• And, like last year, the Owls were demolished by Oklahoma State, which seemed to use last year's script.
"It's football, you can win a game on five plays," Owls senior defensive end Josh Pinnick said. "We didn't make the big plays and they did."
The loss brought FAU (1-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) down to earth a week after defeating Middle Tennessee State 27-14 in its season opener.
After beating the Blue Raiders with an impressive defensive, the Owls quickly found out the Cowboys (1-1) are quite a bit better than MTSU.
"We knew they were physical and going to be a step up from Middle Tennessee," said running back B.J. Manley, who followed his 64-yard on 16-carry performance against the Blue Raiders with 1 yard rushing on six carries against Oklahoma State. "We prepared and tried our best."
FAU came out knowing it would need a near-perfect game to beat Oklahoma State, but didn't even complete one play before making a mistake that was indicative of the way the night would go for the Owls.
After a holding penalty on the opening kickoff pushed the Owls back to a first-and-10 situation from their own 9-yard line, quarterback Rusty Smith threw a quick pass to receiver Chris Bonner on the left side. Bonner, making his first career start, juggled the ball and it ended up in the hands of OSU defensive back Andre Sexton, who dashed into the end zone to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead just 13 seconds into the game.
"It wasn't a very good start vs. a team of this caliber," said Owls quarterback Rusty Smith, who was 14-of-22 for 125 yards and the interception. "When you are playing a team like this you can't mistakes, and we made some mistakes tonight."
But the Cowboys made a mistake on their first offensive play as well when senior linebacker Cergile Sincere forced running back Keith Totson to fumble the ball at the OSU 27-yard line. The ball was recovered by Owls junior linebacker Frantz Joseph and four plays later junior kicker Warley Leroy hit a 45-yard field goal, the longest of his career, to cut OSU's lead to 7-3 with 9:37 remaining in the first quarter.
"We know what type of defense we are and know we have to stop their offense, no matter what happens," FAU senior defensive back Taheem Acevedo said.
It looked like the score would remain close until halftime when FAU sophomore defensive back Corey Small appeared to thwart OSU's scoring drive by intercepting a pass by Robinson, who relieved starter Bobby Reid, in the end zone. However, officials ruled Small and Cowboys receiver Adarius Bowman both had possession as they fell to the ground.
OSU took a 21-6 lead into the half and never looked back.
Noteworthy: Small missed the second half with a right ankle injury. ... Willie Floyd missed most of the second half with a left knee injury and will have an MRI exam this week. ... With 6:36 remaining in the third quarter, the lights on FAU's half of the stadium went dark and the game was delayed for 15 minutes.