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Florida Atlantic enters bye week wondering ‘what if’ once again

It was supposed to be the breakout game, the one that finally would put Florida Atlantic back in the win column.

Against Marshall in Huntington, West Virginia, the Owls led at the half by five points, buoyed by a stout defense and their no-huddle offense that consistently was moving the ball.

Running backs Buddy Howell and Devon Singletary were running through the Marshall defense. Quarterback Jason Driskel was looking sharp as well as backup QB Daniel Parr, who engineered a nine-play, 89-yard first quarter TD drive.

After three quarters, the Owls were still in front, clinging to a two-point lead.

However, the Thundering Herd scored the last 11 points and kept the Owls scoreless in the second half, taking a 27-21 victory.

The Owls, as in previous games, had one last chance to win at the end. An out-of-bounds kickoff gave the Owls great field position at their 40-yard line, but a holding call and a dropped pass by Kalib Woods ended any hope for a rally.

It was FAU’s fourth consecutive loss by six points or less, and the Owls’ losing streak has reached six in a row.

Florida Atlantic will look for answers during its upcoming bye week. On Monday, Coach Charlie Partridge was quick to emphasize the positives, in spite of the harsh reality of his team’s 1-6 overall record and 0-2 mark in Conference USA.

“We ran the ball and stopped the run as well as we have in the last couple years,” Partridge said. “That put us in position to win the game.”

Statistics bear that out.

Howell carried the ball 20 times for 113 yards while Singletary gained 115 yards on 13 attempts, including an up the middle 48-yard TD run to close out the first quarter.

But history repeated itself as ill-timed miscues cost the Owls opportunities to put this one away early. Two red-zone turnovers and an ill-advised throw led to an interception that halted first-half scoring drives.

Still, there were questions about how Florida Atlantic’s two quarterbacks were used in the game.

After leading the Owls to a score at the end of the first quarter and a 14-10 lead, Parr was replaced by starter Driskel on the next set of downs.

Why not stick with the hot QB?

“Jason moves the ball just as well. Daniel and his progression is still limited,” Partridge said.

So it’s back to the drawing board for the Owls.

“We’re in a good place from a motivation standpoint,” Partridge said. “It comes down to finding a way to win. Nothing has have changed our focus - it’s one mission at a time.

“To throw everything to the wind is a sign of panic. We don’t need to do that. Recruiting is going well. We just need to coach better, play better and have a complete game.”

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