Blowout In Boca: The Panthers Fall To FAU In 2019 Shula Bowl

Dalton Tevlin/Sports Director

It was no hoot for the Panthers in the 18th annual Shula Bowl against the Florida Atlantic Owls. 

Penalties, lackluster offense, and costly mistakes tell the story of this outing for head coach Butch Davis and his team. 

“Here’s the summary for the 2019 season. The self-inflicted wounds are every week. We have a chance to cut the lead to three and the holder bobbles the snap and throws an interception. The punter can’t hang on to the snap because it’s over his head, those things are impossible to overcome against a good football team,” said Davis.

FAU opened their first drive with a 10-yard touchdown run by running back Malcolm Davidson to give the Owls an early 7-0 lead. The Panthers would keep it close for most of the first half. 

Running back Napoleon Maxwell got the start with fellow tailback Anthony Jones not making the trip due to injury.

 Maxwell had the Panthers only score on the night with a 75-yard touchdown in the 2nd quarter, the longest in FIU history since T.Y. Hiltons 80 yard touchdown against Troy in 2010. 

The Owls would go into the half with a 13-7 lead, giving the Panthers plenty of room to mount a comeback. However, the Panthers came out in the third quarter looking more stagnant than in the first half. 

FIU’s defense played well, for the most part, making key stops in the red zone to hold FAU to field goals but were continuously put in bad field position thanks to FIU’s problems on offense.

“To be honest, the defense was in horrible position for most of the night. I’m pretty proud of the way they held up when they had to defend the short field. But we have to do a much better job on offense. If we can’t run the football more effectively, our offense won’t be able to put up points. We can’t put James or any quarterback in those types of positions,” said Davis. 

FAU wide receiver DeAngelo Antoine opened the third quarter with a 45-yard catch to set the Owls up in the red zone. Quarterback Chris Robinson then connected with one of the best tight ends in Conference USA, Harrison Bryant, for a 5-yard touchdown followed by a two-point conversion to make it 21-7. 

From here on out the rest of the game felt like a formality for the Panthers. Davidson sealed the deal with two nifty rushing touchdowns to give the Owls a final score of 37-7 and was crowned Shula Bowl MVP. 

Quarterback James Morgan ended the game with 192 yards passing on 20 completions. Receiver Tony Gaiter was Morgan’s go-to target with seven catches for 94 yards although a costly fumble on the Panthers 16 yard line gave up points to the Owls. 

Maxwell ended the game with 16 rushes for 95 yards, with 75 of those yards coming off his big play in the 2nd quarter. The run game for the Panthers struggled all night and a depleted offensive line didn’t help much.  

The Panthers were their own worst enemies in this contest. Costly offside penalties and unsportsmanlike conduct calls plagued the defense all night. 

The Panthers have some serious soul searching to do if they hope to become bowl eligible for the third straight season. They have a week off to prepare for their big-brother in Coral Gables the University of Miami on Nov. 23rd at Marlins Park. 

After the Panthers take on the Hurricanes they will face the Marshall Herd who are fighting for a spot atop C-USA east against FAU. 

Both games will test the Panthers and they will need to play much cleaner football if they hope to compete against two really good teams in UM and Marshall. 

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