Florida Atlantic 38, Troy 32

TROY, Ala. (AP) -- Rusty Smith passed for 291 yards and two touchdowns and Florida Atlantic had a late defensive stand to beat Troy 38-32 on Saturday, sending the fledgling Owls program to their first bowl game.

Howard Schnellenberger's Owls (7-5, 6-1 Sun Belt Conference) scored 28 points in a 12-minute span of the second half and held on to claim a share of the league title with the Trojans (8-4, 6-1) and a chance to play Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl.

Troy answered with its own rapid-fire surge to score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including Omar Haugabook's 14-yard touchdown to Gerald Tate with 4:25 left to cut the Owls' lead to 38-32.

Florida Atlantic, which added a field goal in the quarter, pushed the ball to midfield before Shawn Todd sacked Smith on third down to force a punt.

Troy took over at its own 28 with 2:45 left. Haugabook followed a 13-yard run with four straight short completions to give Troy a first down at Florida Atlantic's 32.

Haugabook then ran for 2 yards but his final three passes fell incomplete to end the comeback attempt.

Smith completed 23-of-34 passes, including two touchdown passes. Cortez Gent had eight catches for 155 yards.

Haugabook completed 35-of-47 passes for 265 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also rushed for 86 yards on 23 carries with leading rusher Kenny Cattouse only attempting one rush because of an ankle sprain.

The win and league title was another achievement for the 73-year-old Schnellenberger, who started building the program from scratch in 1998, 15 years after leading Miami to a national championship. The Owls had their first full season as a Division I-A (now Football Bowls Subdivision) in 2005.

Down 9-7 at halftime, they scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and another on the opening play of the fourth for a 35-12 lead. Two of the TDs were set up with fumble recoveries by Kris Bartels. The final TD was Smith's 12-yarder to Gent on the first play of the fourth.

Warley Leroy added a 34-yard field goal with 6:23 left, which kept the Trojans from being able to attempt a tying kick at the end after giving up three scores.

Troy is still hoping to receive an at-large bowl bid.



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