Keeping up with C-USA: Owls take Shula Bowl, Roadrunners stay perfect

Florida+Atlantic+players+celebrate+the+Don+Shula+Award+with+their+fans+after+defeating+Florida+International+58-21+in+the+Shula+Bowl+in+Boca+Raton+on+October+2%2C+2021.

Jeff Romance / The Palm Peach Post

Florida Atlantic players celebrate the Don Shula Award with their fans after defeating Florida International 58-21 in the Shula Bowl in Boca Raton on October 2, 2021.

Jake Moore, Sports Editor

The fifth week of Conference USA football action saw multiple C-USA members face big-time Power Five programs, the FAU Owls beat up on their in-state rival FIU and the UTSA Roadrunners defeating UNLV to remain perfect. 

Conference Play

Florida Atlantic Owls vs Florida International University Golden Panthers

The FAU Owls (3-2, 1-0 C-USA) defeated their interstate rival FIU (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) 58-21 on Saturday in another installment of the “Shula Bowl”, the affectionate name for the two program’s rivalry named after the legendary Don Shula. The Owls held a 34-21 lead entering the half and did not let up on the gas. 

Owls quarterback N’Kosi Perry completed 18-of-21 passes for a trio of scores and 329 yards through the air, finding three different receivers for all three touchdowns. Receiver Je’Quan Burton turned just seven receptions into 121 yards and a score and running back Johnny Ford averaged 6.4 yards per carry en route to 102 yards and a trip to the end zone.

Panthers quarterback Max Bortenschlager completed less that 50% of his passes, going 12-for-28 for two touchdowns and a pick. FIU backup Grayson James saw the field as well, completing 7-of-12 passes for just 56 yards. 

Marshall Thundering Herd vs Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Middle Tennessee (2-3, 1-2 C-USA) earned its first C-USA victory of the season on Saturday, defeating Marshall (2-3, 0-1 C-USA) 34-28 in front of its home crowd to snap the Blue Raiders’ three-game losing streak.

Blue Raiders quarterback Chase Cunningham only completed 12-of-21 passes for 105 yards, but still tossed two scores with just one interception. Running back Chaton Mobley carried most of the offense, taking 15 attempts for 132 yards and a touchdown on a stellar 8.8 yards per carry average.

Marshall quarterback Grant Wells kept his team in the game, completing 31-of-47 passes for 321 yards but tossing a pair of attempts into the hands of the Blue Raiders’ defense.

University of El Paso Miners vs Old Dominion Monarchs

UTEP (4-1, 1-0 C-USA) held off the ODU Monarchs (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) to win 28-21 on Saturday at the Sun Bowl. 

UTEP’s Deion Hankins gave the Miners the lead with a three-yard touchdown run with seven minutes left in the game. The Monarchs drove down the field to UTEP’s 38 but an incompletion on fourth-and-17 stopped ODU’s attempt to tie up the score.

Miners quarterback Gavin Hardison threw for 191 yards and a pair of scores on 10-of-20 passing, finding wide receiver Jacob Cowing four times for 118 yards of offense. Hankins finished the game with 70 yards on 22 attempts to go along with his crucial touchdown run.

D.J. Mack Jr., the Monarch’s signal caller, went 20-of-34 with 194 yards of offense with a touchdown and interception apiece. 

Rice Owls vs Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Rice (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) picked up its second victory in a row by defeating the Golden Eagles (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) 24-19 on Saturday. 

Southern Miss was close to mounting a comeback from its 17-point deficit but could not stop the Owls. Starting quarterback Ty Keyes left the game in the first quarter due to an ankle injury, so the Eagles called on third-string freshman Jake Lange to take over.

Lange completed 23 of his 38 attempts, compiling 304 yards of offense and a touchdown. Unfortunately, three of Lange’s passes ended up in the hands of defenders.

Rice quarterback Jake Constantine got the job done, going 16-for-22 for 192 yards and two touchdowns. No other member of the Owls’ offense eclipsed the 100-yard mark.

Non-conference

UAB Blazers vs Liberty Flames

The Blazers (3-2, 1-0 C-USA) were taken down by the Liberty Flames (4-1) 36-12 on Saturday. Flames running back Malik Willis ran for a pair of touchdowns and 144 yards to sink UAB, who only put up three points in the first half.

Blazers quarterback Dyan Hopkins was a mediocre 12-of-26 for just 152 yards and an interception in UAB’s first home loss of the year.

University of San Antonio Roadrunners vs UNLV Rebels

UTSA (5-0, 1-0 C-USA) remained perfect, taking down UNLV (0-5, 0-1 MWC) 24-17 on Saturday.

Roadrunners running back Sincere McCormick was more or less contained, only averaging 3.1 yards per carry on 29 carries for 89 total yards of offense and a score.

UTSA quarterback Frank Harris picked up the slack, completing 24 of his 30 pass attempts for a pair of touchdowns to keep his squad perfect. 

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs No. 23 NC State Wolfpack

LA Tech (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) fell to the nationally ranked Wolfpack (4-1, 1-0 ACC) 34-27. The Bulldogs put up a pair of scores in the fourth quarter in a furious rally but could not complete the upset.

Bulldogs signal caller Austin Kendall went 26-of-43 for 341 yards and three touchdowns, each to a different receiver, but also launched a pair of picks. Kendall stretched his legs, rushing for 71 yards.

Charlotte 49ers vs Illinois Fighting Illini

Charlotte (3-2, 1-0 C-USA) fell to a Power Five program in Illinois (2-4, 1-2 B1G) by a score of 24-14 on Saturday. The 49ers outplayed the Fighting Illini through the air, compiling 191 passing yards to Illinois’ mark of just 78 but could not pull off the upset.

49ers quarterback Christ Reynolds went 17-of-23 for 191 yards and two scores and found wide receiver Grant DuBose four times for seventy yards. The Charlotte rushing attack was led by backs Calvin Camp and Chris Reynolds who ran for 29 and 26 yards respectively. 

Sports Editor Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.