Scores
MOTOR CITY BOWL

Final

Florida Atl 24

(7-6)

Coverage: ESPN

7:30 PM ET, December 26, 2008

1 2 3 4 T
FAU 7 3 7 724
CMU 0 10 3 821

Top Performers

Passing: R. Smith (FAU) - 306 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: D. Edgecomb (FAU) - 9 CAR, 47 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: A. Brown (CMU) - 11 REC, 92 YDS, 1 TD

Smith's 307 yards, two TDs lead Owls past Central Michigan

Associated Press

DETROIT -- Florida Atlantic has played eight seasons of major college football and already has a winning streak in bowl games.

Howard Schnellenberger's championship experience must be rubbing off.

Rusty Smith threw for 307 yards and two second-half touchdowns to help the Owls beat Central Michigan 24-21 on Friday night in the Motor City Bowl.

Striving For Perfection

Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger improved to 6-0 in bowl games, the most wins without a loss in bowl history.


Most Bowl Wins Without
A Loss, FBS History
Coach Record
Howard Schnellenberger 6-0
Howard Jones 5-0
Mike Riley 4-0
Butch Davis 4-0
Jim Donnan 4-0

Florida Atlantic began playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2001 but has won both its postseason games. The Owls defeated Memphis last year in the New Orleans Bowl.

"Certainly, this is going to go down as the most meaningful game we've had," said Schnellenberger, who coached Miami to the 1983 national title and was hired to start Florida Atlantic's football program from scratch in 1998. "I can't tell you how proud I am of our entire football team."

The teams were tied 10-all midway through the third quarter when Smith hit Chris Bonner with a 52-yard scoring pass. Smith found Cortez Gent with an 18-yard strike early in the fourth to give the Owls (7-6) a bit of a cushion.

Fast Facts

• Florida Atlantic improved to 2-0 in bowls, with both wins coming in the past two seasons.

• The Owls closed the year by winning six of their last seven games.

• Central Michigan was playing in a bowl for a school-record third straight season (fourth MAC team to accomplish the feat), falling to 1-2 in that span.

• Central Michigan has lost three straight.

-- ESPN research

Making their third straight Motor City Bowl appearance, the Chippewas (8-5) cut the lead to 24-21 with 3 minutes to play when Dan LeFevour hit Antonio Brown with a touchdown pass and then Kito Poblah for a 2-point conversion. Gent recovered the ensuing onside kick, however.

Most of the 41,399 fans at Ford Field cheered the in-state Chippewas, but they were quiet as Florida Atlantic ran out the clock.

"We've played in a whole lot worse places than this -- the Swamp, Clemson, Texas, Michigan State, Oklahoma," Schnellenberger said.

It was the smallest turnout in the game's 12-year history, yet Motor City Bowl chairman Ken Hoffman said the game will return to Ford Field in 2009 despite Detroit's dismal economic forecast.

Smith, selected the game's MVP, finished 20-for-35. Gent caught seven passes for 98 yards and Charles Pierre had 80 yards on the ground in a happy return to Michigan for Florida Atlantic, shut out at Michigan State on Sept. 13 during a game-long rainstorm.

Schnellenberger's sport jacket was wet at the end of Friday night's game, too, but only because his players doused him with a cooler as the final seconds ticked away.

The Owls began the season 1-5 but won five of their final six to become bowl-eligible.

"It's a great way to go out," linebacker Frantz Joseph said.

LeFevour was 28-for-40 for 253 yards with two touchdowns and a first-quarter interception that led to the Owls' first touchdown. Central Michigan dropped its third straight.

Central Michigan trailed 17-13 late in the third quarter when Antonio Brown sprang loose for what would have been a 72-yard touchdown run, but Poblah's facemask penalty negated it. The Chippewas were forced to punt a few plays later.

"I think that hurt us and took away some momentum as well," coach Butch Jones said. "The disappointing thing is we felt like we left a lot of opportunities out there."

The teams went to halftime tied at 10 after Florida Atlantic's Ross Gornall kicked a 36-yard field goal in the final minute of the second quarter.

Dilvory Edgecomb scored on a 1-yard run in the first quarter for the Owls, but LeFevour answered in the second with a short touchdown pass to Poblah.

Brown caught 11 passes for 91 yards for Central Michigan, which topped Middle Tennessee in the 2006 Motor City Bowl and lost a 51-48 shootout to Purdue last season.

Chrysler LLC pulled out of its Motor City Bowl sponsorship commitment in early November, leaving Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. as the game's major presenters. Organizers canceled the 2009 Detroit Indy Grand Prix two weeks ago because of a dearth of local sponsors.

The Motor City Bowl has a contract with ESPN through the 2013 season.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Team Stat Comparison

 
FAU
CMU
1st Downs2720
Total Yards418380
Passing306253
Rushing112127
Penalties2-255-45
3rd Down Conversions4-114-14
4th Down Conversions0-01-3
Turnovers11
Possession32:1027:50

Passing Leaders

Florida AtlanticC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Smith20/353068.720
Central MichiganC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
LeFevour28/402536.321

Rushing Leaders

Florida AtlanticCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pierre16774.8012
Edgecomb9475.2112
Central MichiganCARYDSAVGTDLG
LeFevour14564.0016
Hoskins5306.0013

Receiving Leaders

Florida AtlanticRECYDSAVGTDLG
Gent79814.0119
Bonner38528.3152
Central MichiganRECYDSAVGTDLG
Brown11928.4126
Poblah66010.0120

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERFAUCMU
TD07:37DiIvory Edgecomb 1 Yd Run (Ross Gornall Kick) 70
SECOND QUARTERFAUCMU
TD13:30Kito Poblah 5 Yd Pass From Dan LeFevour (Andrew Aguila Kick) 77
FG09:30Andrew Aguila 35 Yd 710
FG00:47Ross Gornall 36 Yd 1010
THIRD QUARTERFAUCMU
TD07:57Chris Bonner 52 Yd Pass From Rusty Smith (Ross Gornall Kick) 1710
FG04:59Andrew Aguila 33 Yd 1713
FOURTH QUARTERFAUCMU
TD10:17Cortez Gent 18 Yd Pass From Rusty Smith (Ross Gornall Kick) 2413
TD03:09Antonio Brown 15 Yd Pass From Dan LeFevour (Dan Lefevour Pass To Kito Poblah For Two-Point Conversion) 2421