By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
Devin “Motor” Singletary’s broke the single-season Conference USA touchdown record on a scoring run of six-yards in the second quarter, linebacker Aziz Al-Shaair set the FAU all-time tackles record on defense and quarterback Jason Driskel passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more in the FAU Owls (11-3) 50-3 thrashing of the Akron Zips (7-7) in the 2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl held on Howard Schnellenberger Field at FAU Stadium. Motor scored on a two-yard run early in the third quarter to add to his total of 32 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown during the FAU Owls historic 2017 season. Shaair, the vocal leader of the FAU defense, had a key quarterback sack on talented and flashy Zips QB Kato Nelson early in the second quarter. Nelson, a Redshirt-Freshman from Hollywood, FL, played a great first quarter against the Owls. After Shaair’s sack, Nelson’s effectiveness was non-existent in the game.
“It was special to do it (win a college bowl game) at home in Boca Raton,” Shaair said at the post-game news conference.
Perhaps the story of the day surrounds FAU Owls Football future. Motor is a sophomore, Shaair and Driskel are juniors and FAU Head Coach Lane Kiffin inked a 10-year contract to lead the Owls through the 2027 season only seven hours prior to kickoff at the Boca Raton Bowl.
“We have a group of unordinary guys who put in a lot of time,” Driskel said at the post-game presser.
Coach Kiffin will be back next year to lead a 2017 team that broke the FAU all-time record of touchdowns scored in a season, 83 by the 2007 FAU Owls, winners of the 2007 New Orleans Bowl 44-27 over the Memphis Tigers. FAU Owls legendary Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger coached in that game and Rusty Smith, the first Owl to ever start a game in the National Football League (NFL), quarterbacked the Owls to a win in that game. This was only FAU’s second 11-win season since the football program started in 2001.
The “Lane Train” had many passengers zoom into Boca Raton for the Boca Raton Bowl game. ESPN’s Steve Levy, the famed SportsCenter anchor with the distinguished voice called the game on ESPN Radio nationally from the Boca Raton Bowl. Phil Steele, author of Phil Steele’s College Football Preview, the go-to magazine previewing each college football season, was also in the Owl’s Nest broadcasting for ESPN Radio. The game was the only game featured in the nation and broadcast on ESPN’s popular cable TV Channel.
Singletary finished the game with 26 rushes for 124 yards and three rushing touchdowns. The last touchdown run was for a 26-yard score with 10:49 left in the fourth quarter. Driskel had 78 yards rushing and 270 yards passing with two touchdowns. For his out of the ordinary efforts, Driskel won the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl Offensive Player of the Game trophy. He completed 19 out 25 passes. In addition, wide receivers Willie Wright had seven catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns, Kalib Woods had four catches for 79 yards and Kamrin Solomon caught four passes for 71 yards including a 63-yard reception. The FAU offense amassed 482 yards offensively versus the Akron Zips 146 total yards. Zips Head Coach Terry Bowden, son of former Florida State University (FSU) and legendary Coach Bobby Bowden, didn’t think FAU ran up the score and when asked if FAU belongs in the College Football Top-25 rankings responded, “I do. I would vote for FAU,” Terry Bowden said.