Reese Furlow | Special to The Post
BOCA RATON – Florida Atlantic overcame an hour-long lightning delay and first-half struggles to continue its impressive winning streak in FAU Stadium.
Willie Taggart’s Owls defeated Fordham 45-14 on Saturday night even though the Rams did not make it easy for Florida Atlantic (2-1) during the first half.
The game was only 14-7 heading into halftime. While the defense did its part to hold the Rams to seven points, the Owls dealt with dropped passes and muffed punts to keep Fordham (0-3) in the game in the first half.
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“They’re excited about the win, but it wasn’t really exciting how we started,” Taggart said. “Really sloppy there early on, but I was happy how they came out in the second half.”
Quarterback N’Kosi Perry still had a good game after halftime, where he threw two touchdown passes. He also finished 27-of-43 for 278 yards.
Here are five takeaways:
1. Early offensive strugglesThe Owls’ offense was held to 261 yards in the first half after multiple three-and outs prevented the Owls from getting into the end zone. It also did not help that Owls receivers had five drops in the game, with two being dropped touchdown passes in the first and second quarter by Je’Quan Burton.
“I was trying to brush it off as much as I could, but I know it’s going to eat at me for a while,” Perry said. “I definitely trust my guys. I got to put my trust in them and every time i just try to encourage them.”
The offense picked up in the third quarter, however, when the Owls scored 14 unanswered points from Larry McCammon and Perry. The fourth quarter is when the Owls blew it open, when they went on a 17-7 run to end the game.
2. The takeaways streak continuesThe Owls added to their streak of games with a takeaway, which is now at four dating back to last year.
Defensive back Zyon Gilbert kept the streak alive after intercepting a pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Safety Teja Young also had an interception — his second of the season — and took it back for a touchdown. It was the first time the Owls had a pick-six since 2016.
3. Back-to-back for WesterIn last week’s 38-6 win over Georgia Southern, Wester caught seven passes for 124 yards and a touchdown.
In Saturday’s win, Wester caught 10 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, making him the first receiver to have back-to-back 100-yard games since Jovon Durante did it in 2018.
“LaJohntay is just a baller. his football IQ is so good,” Perry said. “He told me he wanted to break the record and get 200. I knew he was going to be ready to go, and he was a guy I knew I could lean on.”
Wester also became the first receiver to have 10 receptions in a game since Harrison Bryant in 2019.
4. No Ford, no problemThe Owls’ leading rusher, Johnny Ford (123 yards), was scratched from the lineup Saturday after dislocating his shoulder against Florida, an injury still he was still dealing with against Georgia Southern.
James Charles, Malcolm Davidson, Larry McCammon and Kelvin Dean stepped up and rushed for a combined 200 yards and two touchdowns. Dean had the most rushing yards on the night, going for 74 yards on nine carries.
“We felt we could use this game as an extra week for him to heal up, but next week he’ll be back,” Taggart said.
5. Thanks for comingSaturday’s game was the first in program history between these schools, and just the second time in program history that Fordham traveled to south Florida. The first time the Rams were in Florida was when they lost to Miami in 1953.
The Owls will now pack up and travel to Colorado to take on Air Force on Sept. 25, where they look to defeat the Falcons for the second time in program history.
Florida Atlantic has now won 10 consecutive games at FAU Field and is perfect at home under head coach Willie Taggart.