The Florida Atlantic Owls played their first football game with Lane Kiffin as head coach on Friday night, and the highly-anticipated game was certainly eventful.
FAU’s game against Navy didn’t conclude until 1:47 AM ET in Boca Raton — five hours and 44 minutes after it started — due to three lightning delays. The fourth quarter alone took over three hours to complete, and under 200 people — of an announced attendance of 28,481 — remained in the stands after the third lightning delay.
The scene at FAU at 1:40 a.m. pic.twitter.com/KaWrvrr7Sa
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) September 2, 2017
Seemingly everyone was ready to go home, except for Lane Kiffin, and it required both teams to agree to call the game. FAU was trailing Navy 42-19 in the fourth quarter when the third lightning delay came, but Kiffin refused to let the game end, as ESPN’s Andrea Adelson explains:
“I don’t know any other way to do it,” Kiffin said. “I thought we were still going to win. I thought we’d make the two-point conversion … go to a three-score game, get an onside kick, still 12, 13, 14 minutes at that time, I would never do anything different.”
The game finally resumed well after 1 a.m. ET.
Kiffin said he and his players would have waited all night to finish, if it had come to that.
“We were bunkered down,” Kiffin said. “We were staying for the long haul. That’s just how our program is, that’s how we want our players to think, and if you love football, why wouldn’t you want to keep playing? Regardless of how long it was off in between. People bring up ‘OK, is there issues about player safety?’ You think back to when we did two-a-days forever. That was almost what it was like today, the wait was so long.”
(Navy blinked twice) pic.twitter.com/tNFkK9nnjQ
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger_sherman) September 2, 2017
So, they continued playing… and the score remained the same. Navy took down FAU 42-19.
Navy players screaming, "Let's get home" as they run off the field. https://t.co/WowfiZXAJH
— Andrea Adelson (@aadelsonESPN) September 2, 2017
Things actually started out pretty well for FAU, as they took a 10-7 lead on this 95-yard touchdown (which the camera guy had a tough time following) in the second quarter:
But, it was all downhill from there for the Owls who had no answer for Navy’s rushing attack. The Midshipmen ran for 416 yards and five touchdowns on 68 carries (6.1 AVG). Quarterback Zach Abey had a ridiculous 32 carries for 235 yards and two touchdowns (he only attemped 10 passes). Examples of Navy’s dominance on the ground:
Kiffin got three former Last Chance U (East Mississippi Community College) players to transfer to FAU, and last week even said that he refers to FAU as “Last Strike U”. The three players — quarterback De’Andre Johnson, wide receiver John Franklin III, and defensive end Tim Bonner — all played on Friday night.
Johnson, who was dismissed from Florida State in 2015 after video was released of him punching a woman in the face at a bar, got some playing time at quarterback for FAU, and threw this interception in the fourth quarter:
Johnson finished 2-of-3 with five passing yards and the interception, and also ran for 31 yards on four carries.
Franklin actually spent last season at Auburn, after — like Johnson — being at Florida State before EMCC. The former EMCC backup quarterback is playing wide receiver for FAU, and had two receptions for seven yards against Navy.
Bonner, a favorite of Last Chance U protagonist Brittany Wagner, played in the game but didn’t show up on the stat sheet.
Things certainly don’t get any easier for Kiffin and FAU next weekend, when they take on No. 9 Wisconsin in Madison.