Middle Tennessee State defeats FAU 31-17

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.-- The Carl Pelini era is off to a calamitous start.

FAU extended its Sun Belt Conference losing streak to 11 games Saturday night, as a career game from quarterback Graham Wilbert and two fourth-quarter touchdowns weren't enough to close a 18-point Middle Tennessee State lead in what would ultimately be a 31-17 loss at Floyd Stadium.

Through two games of the 2012, the FAU offense has lost five fumbles and scored three touchdowns.

"We're a disjointed football team," Pelini said. "It's easy to execute when the pressure's off. Everyone's loose once you're down... We have to learn how to execute when the pressure's on."

The Blue Raiders, who had been winless since beating FAU 38-14 last October, just needed to see the Owls again.

The Blue Raiders (1-1, 1-0) ran for 304 yards on 54 carries, with both Jordan Parker and Drayton Calhoun topping the century mark. The carries were the most for MTSU since their 2011 FAU win.

MTSU quarterback Logan Kilgore wasn't left out on the fun. He threw two touchdowns to Anthony Amos, a former walk-on, who also had a 100-yard game.

"I thought [MTSU] played well," Wilbert said. "They outplayed us... We didn't do our jobs. It's just frustrating — I want to win so bad. It's not good to start 0-1 in conference."

After losing four fumbles in a week one win over Wagner, FAU (1-1, 0-1) again had problems handing the football. The Owls lost two fumbles Saturday.

But it was MTSU, not FAU, that had ball-control problems early in Saturday's contest, as the Owls forced two fumbles, deep in their own territory to keep the game close.

Parker's first carry of the season for MTSU earned the Blue Raiders a first down deep in FAU territory, until the ball popped out of his hands and defensive tackle Jimmy Jean jumped on it, giving the Owls the ball.

MTSU opted to drive a bit deeper before again fumbling deep in FAU territory. The second time, it was Kyle Griswould who would run into FAU linebacker David Hinds at the FAU 2-yard line, coughing the ball up. The ball bounced five yards left of the pile that surrounded Griswould and directly to the feet of Kilgore, who had a clear path to the endzone in front of him, but the quarterback muffed his scoop of the ball, and Hinds finished by falling on the ball.

Griswould would later redeem himself, scoring from three yards out in the second half.

Wilbert had two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, but the Owls' fate had already been sealed, as they entered the quarter trailing 21-3. Wilbert's four-yard touchdown pass to Damian Fortner capped an impressive nine-play, 79-yard drive, and the Owls followed that with a seven-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a eight-yard touchdown pass from Wilbert to Byron Hankerson.

Wilbert completed 25 of 32 passing attempts for a career-high 260 yards.

Calhoun matched FAU's first touchdown with a 29-yard touchdown scamper.

Jeremy McKnight's personal foul kept alive a MTSU third-quarter drive that ended in MTSU's only field goal of the game. McKnight, the second man in on coverage, opted to put his helmet into the receiver instead of catching what would have been a tailor-made interception.

"Lack of discipline," senior linebacker Randell Johnson said. "We're going to learn from it and get better."

Wilbert started the game by completing his first 11 passes, setting a new individual, single-game school record, beating Rusty Smith's streak of 10 consecutive completions against Oklahoma State exactly five years ago Saturday.

Jared Allen and Danny Embick combined to also complete 11 consecutive passes in a game against Siena in 2003.

The Owls won't play in confernece again until Sept. 29, when they host North Texas.

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