for this game

Florida Atlantic motors past Central Michigan

Dec 27, 2008 - 4:21 AM MT. PLEASANT, Michigan (Ticker) -- Rusty Smith threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns as Florida Atlantic kept coach Howard Schnellenberger's bowl record perfect with Friday's 24-21 victory over Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl.

Smith led a 98-yard march in the third quarter that culminated with a 52-yard pass to Chris Bonner. The touchdown gave the Owls a 17-10 lead.

He then connected with Jamari Grant in the fourth quarter from 18 yards to make it 24-13 at the end of a 70-yard drive.

Central Michigan drove down the field and was faced with a fourth-and-goal inside the Owls' 10 with five minutes left.

Coach Butch Jones eschewed the field goal that could have brought the Chippewas within eight points. Dan LeFevour's pass into the end zone was knocked down by FAU linebacker Frantz Joseph.

The Chippewas' defense held and the Owls punted from deep in their own territory. Central Michigan took over and again faced a fourth down.

This time, LeFevour found Kito Poblah for 12 yards and on the next play connected with Antonio Brown for a 15-yard scoring strike. LeFevour then hit Poblah for the two-point conversion to make it 24-21 with 3:09 left.

Florida Atlantic recovered the onside kick and Charles Pierre broke off three runs for critical first downs to secure the victory.

Schnellenberger, 74, is 6-0 in bowl games. He previously has been head coach at Miami, Oklahoma and Louisville.

Four of his five victories have been by double digits. His most memorable win was a 31-30 victory over Nebraska in the 1984 Orange Bowl that gave Miami its first national championship.

Despite being dressed to the max in a shirt, sports jacket and tie, the Owls gave Schnellenberger a Gatorade bath and carried him off the field on their shoulders.

The teams ended the half deadlocked at 10-10. The stats were nearly as even as the scoreboard. Each team had a turnover and Florida Atlantic (7-6) had a 207-178 edge in total yardage.

The Owls scored first when DiIvory Edgecomb found the end zone from a yard out to cap a 66-yard march in the first quarter.

The Chippewas (8-5) evened things in the second when LeFevour hit Poblah from five yards out at the end of a 75-yard drive.

The teams then swapped field goals; Andrew Aguila connected from 36 yards and Russ Gornall hit from 35 to knot the game with 47 seconds left in the half.