Panthers face Howard Schnellenberger for final time as FAU coach

Photo by Jasen Delgado

Photo by Jasen Delgado

By: Jackson Wolek / Staff Writer 

The rivalry between FIU and the team just 45 minutes north, FAU, continues on Nov. 12 at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium for the tenth installment of the Shula Bowl. The Panthers have won against the Owls just once in nine tries, but the 52-6 win in 2005 was vacated due to NCAA violations.

Last year, FIU came into the game riding high, winning two straight conference games while FAU had yet to win a game. Nevertheless, FAU came out with the 21-9 victory over the Panthers.

“We were kind of on cloud nine coming into the game last year with two conference wins so we thought we had them,” said senior T.Y Hilton. “We just got to take it one game at a time and that’s what we’re doing now.”

FAU (0-8, 0-5 SBC ) now have 11 consecutive losses dating back to last season, but showed much improvement last week when they held close with Arkansas State, a team that beat FIU earlier this year, until the fourth quarter.

The Owls are at the bottom in almost every statistical category, but the one bright spot has been running back Alfred Morris who ran for a touchdown and 96 yards in last year’s Shula Bowl and is fourth in the Sun Belt this year with 705 yards rushing.

“He’s a great football player, and I think he is one of the best in the conference and a guy who’s going to play on Sundays,” said head coach Mario Cristobal. “He’s a big guy who just rumbles and rambles over people.”

Saturday night will also be the last home game for Hilton, the star wide receiver for the Panthers who has 49 receptions for 832 yards and five touchdowns so far this season. Hilton has had many great memories throughout his four year career at Alfonso Field, but one stands above the rest.

“The one that sticks out is my freshman year against Arkansas State, when I threw the Hilton Heave to Junior Mertile in the endzone,” Hilton said.

This will be the last game for FAU head coach Howard Schnellenberger against the Panthers, as he announced that he will be retiring after this season. Schnellenberger has been a big part of the rivalry between the two teams having been a part of the FAU program since 2001.

He has meant a lot to coach Cristobal personally as well, who was recruited by Schnellenberger when he was in college.

“We go way back to the point where he recruited myself and my brother. He’s been in my house on a couple of occasions way back in “86 and “88… makes you feel a little bit old,” said Cristobal. “He’s had a tremendous career and I do believe he’s reasonable for changing the landscape of college football and  setting an example of how to build programs.”

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