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Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • October 25, 2009

Photo gallery Florida Atlantic vs. UL 1 http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20091024&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=910240805&Ref=PH

Photo gallery Florida Atlantic vs. UL 2 http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20091024&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=910240806&Ref=PH

Photo gallery Florida Atlantic vs. UL Tailgating http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20091024&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=910240802&Ref=PH

Photo gallery Homecoming Parade http://www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Avis=DG&Dato=20091024&Kategori=NEWS01&Lopenr=910240801&Ref=PH

Even with UL coming off back-to-back shaky performances in narrow wins, quarterback Chris Masson thought that his team had enough offense to get into a shootout against Florida Atlantic.

Ends up that the Ragin’ Cajun defense was a bigger concern Saturday night.

Unable to withstand the one-two punch of Owls quarterback Rusty Smith and tailback Alfred Morris, UL fell flat in a 51-29 loss before an announced homecoming crowd of 21,135 at Cajun Field.

The Cajuns (4-3, 2-1 Sun Belt) saw their two-game winning streak snapped after FAU racked up a school-record 624 yards, handing UL its first loss in league play and at home this season.

"I’m very disappointed in the way we played tonight," UL coach Rickey Bustle said. "I’m embarrassed by the way we tackled. We gave up too many big plays. I know our kids are embarrassed by the way they played."

Smith and Morris were tag-team partners all night for FAU (2-4, 2-1). Smith threw for a season-high 359 yards and four touchdowns, while Morris rushed for a career-high 181 yards and two scores as the Owls won for the second consecutive week.

"What a marvelous performance by our offense," FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said. "That game is going to be remembered for a long time."

Actually, the Cajuns would rather forget it.

The game was tied twice in the first quarter before FAU scored two touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 27-16 lead into halftime.

UL quarterback Brad McGuire scored on the last of his three scoring runs late in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 34-29, but the Owls closed with 17 unanswered points to wrap it up.

The two-headed quarterback rotation of Masson and McGuire accounted for 258 of UL’s 372 yards against a porous FAU defense. Masson passed for 209 yards and one touchdown, while McGuire ran for a career-high three scores.

Tailback Yobes Walker enjoyed a special night, rushing for a career-high 105 yards on 21 carries in his first college start in place of injured starter Undrea Sails. Receiver Marlin Miller hauled in seven catches for a career-high 115 yards and one touchdown.

"I was glad to see our offense answer some calls," Bustle said. "But they’ve still got to play better."

The bigger problem: FAU scored on six of its seven possessions at one point spanning the final three quarters to take control.

Masson, though, refused to point fingers at his defense, which came up big with timely plays in the team’s four victories.

"You can’t put the blame on them," Masson said. "At the end of the game, it is up to us to put the points on the board. I thought we played a pretty decent game for spurts. But it is up to us at the end of the game to put the points on the board, and we just didn’t do it. It’s on us."

It was on UL’s defense early as Smith completed a 70-yard touchdown pass to Chris Bonner on what appeared to be a blown coverage for a 7-0 lead only 79 seconds into the game.

The Cajuns went three-and-out on their first series, but FAU’s Avery Holley fumbled away a punt that was recovered by Junior Jean. Two plays later, Masson hit Miller for a 14-yard scoring pass to tie it up.

After Smith’s 20-yard touchdown strike to Lester Jean over cornerback Melvin White put the Owls up midway through the opening quarter, UL fought back again. Masson moved his team from its own 31 to inside the FAU 20 before McGuire scored on a 9-yard run to knot the score with 24 seconds left in the first period.

FAU regained the lead at 20-14 early in the second quarter after Morris broke three tackles on a 17-yard scoring run, but UL safety Chris Richard blocked Ross Gornall’s extra point. Cornerback Dwight Bentley picked up the ball and returned it for two points to make it 20-16.

Smith answered with a 7-yard touchdown throw to Jason Harmon to give the Owls a 27-16 lead midway through the second quarter. It could have been even worse, but the Cajuns blocked Gornall’s 36-yard field goal attempt 41 seconds before halftime.

McGuire sandwiched a pair of touchdown runs around a score by FAU to trim the margin to 34-29 with three minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Owls responded decisively as Smith hit Bonner with a 64-yard scoring bomb late in the third period.

Gornall added a 19-yard field goal and Morris slipped through two tackles to score from 47 yards out in the fourth quarter to complete FAU’s offensive explosion.

"We were in position to make plays," Bentley said. "We just did not make the plays."

Now the Cajuns hit the road for the next three weeks, with conference games against Florida International, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee. Their regular season closes with back-to-back home games against UL Monroe on Nov. 21 and Troy on Nov. 28.

"It’s going to be tough being away from home, but it’s time for us to grow up," Masson said. "We have some young guys that are being thrown into the fire, but we have no time for that. We have to grow up now."