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Exploring the cosmos with artist Carol Prusa

Posted on 31 August 2019 by LeslieM

Artist Carol Prusa stands in front of “Dark Light, Elegy for Rebecca Elson.”

By Rachel Galvin
Light and its absence are at the heart of Carol Prusa’s latest exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. What lies within the void is the question… what possibility lurks outside of the reach of mind’s eye? What was there before the beginning of the universe? Finding the answers to these questions certainly were within the mind of Prusa as she was creating her works with painstaking precision. Her artwork utilizes details, lines, shapes and symmetry to explore the abstract. Her “Dark Light” exhibition, which opened Aug. 20 and will be on display until Jan. 19, 2020, centers around her experiences of an eclipse.
“I got to experience the night during the day. The first was in Nebraska in 2017. It was so unsettling, so otherworldly. I had to try to grasp what I had just experienced. It knocked me backward. I had to lose my grounding. I had to try to express it the best way I could. I just went again in July 2019 to Chile. I had to see it again, to see if what I thought I saw, I saw,” said Prusa, who is now hoping to experience volcanoes. She has applied to do so at the Hawaii National Volcano Park, where they have just reopened residency.
When not creating works of art about the cosmos, she is reading about women who explored the cosmos in other ways, astronauts who have made vast discoveries, women like Maria Mitchell, who was not only the first female astronomer but the first scientist to discover a comet, among other accomplishments. Mitchell also seemed enamored with eclipses, as she led an all female expedition to Colorado in 1878 to observe one.
“I read a lot of cosmology and physics, big ideas that totally blow my mind,” said Prusa, adding that she likes to explore ideas like what was before the Big Bang, as well as string theory and more.
“It has to be that I don’t understand and then try to understand,” she said. “I need a catalyst to trigger …”
She added, “I love riding a bike at night. You think you see things. It is your mind buzzing, trying to fill the blanks. It is mind blowing. I think artists already are staring into darkness, scientists too.”
She was in Italy teaching drawing classes, and, while at the Uffizi Museum, she got to see drawings done with a process called Silverpoint, which she then began teaching her students and incorporated into her own work. She also uses graphite and acrylic working on plexiglass and wood panels. Some of her pieces in the museum exhibit are lit from within and one, called “Quintessence,” even has video, looking a bit like a kaleidoscope. The most imposing piece is a large scale work called “Dark Light, Elegy for Rebecca Elson,” who was a theoretical astrophysicist whose research focused on dark matter and who died of lymphoma.
With her “Cosmic Web (for the Harvard Observatory Computers)” piece, you feel like you are on the outside looking in.
She explained, “The perimeter is biological, a portal to the universe,” she said, adding that what looks a bit like brain matter around the edge was meant to look like “embryos before they are differentiated by gender. They are pure possibility.”
The “computers” of which she speaks are a group of female astronomers in the 1800s and 1900s who helped map the universe, including Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.
She also has a series of smaller copperplate etchings honoring women astronomers, including Maria Mitchell, Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Annie Jump Cannon, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Vera Rubin and Jocelyn Bell Burnell. The portfolio is called “Galaxias Kyklos,” which means “Milky Path” (or Milky Way) in Greek.
Kathleen Goncharov, the Senior Curator of the Museum, curated the exhibit. If it were up to Prusa, her pieces would be logical, perhaps chronological and certainly lined up. But the curator thought about it differently, said Prusa, looking more at the visual impact experienced by the viewer.
Executive Director Irvin Lippman feels the exhibit came together in the perfect way at the perfect time, being that it deals with the cosmos just in time for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
“How timely … with the eclipse with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It is a bit of serendipity. We are also keen in the educational department to talk about the value of STEAM (science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math). Carol makes the best argument for arts and technology coming together. She is a brilliant example of the scientific mind and creativity coming together.”
He added, “The museum was founded by artists and it’s very important to continue to have exhibits that celebrate Florida artists. Carol has been so involved for many years judging juried shows, at the museum and art school. It is important to show her work.”
While looking over the collection of her artwork, Lippman said, “When you approach it, it’s so meditative. When an eclipse happens, everything else falls by the wayside. They last only a few moments, but, during those moments, everyone focuses together. [The center point of her pieces] draw you inside. [It has] almost meditative spots.”
This is the first solo show here for Prusa, but she has been involved in group shows here in the past, as well as elsewhere. She will be shown in the Norton Sculpture Garden next fall and has a show in Taipei in a couple of weeks. She is in many galleries and is represented in Asia, Canada, Europe and the United States.
She lives here in Boca Raton, but moved here in 1999 from the midwest after reading an article written by Bernice Steinbaum, who said that South Florida was the place to be for the art world.

“Cosmic Web (for the Harvard Observatory Computers)” by Carol Prusa. Submitted photo.

Asked if she felt that Steinbaum was correct, she said, “I felt more opportunity than in the midwest. There is more money to support art in South Florida. But it was more commercial than I understood … that was a transition. I think I have done well. I feel fortunate.”
Prusa wasn’t always an artist.
“I was the president of the math club and a chemistry major. I was happy. I met an artist at the University of Illinois. She thought in such a different way. I thought I could not become a complete person unless I studied art,” said Prusa, who received her Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Illinois and her Masters of Fine Art from Drake University.
She ended up obtaining a biomedical communications degree. She became a Medical Illustrator, which combines science and art. She was qualified to “make life masks, prosthetics, exhibition design, anatomy drawings” and more.
Her family was not so thrilled with her career path. She came from a very religious and iconoclast upbringing. Her father was a Calvinist, a head elder. She said she felt that tradition did give her “great rigor,” which she applied to her career, as she explored other ways of thinking than those she knew.
These days, Prusa does her work in her studio but it was not always the case.
“I used to work in my living room. Now, I have a 15 x 30 studio built in the backyard,” she said, saying she built the studio after winning the South Florida Cultural Consortium $15,000 top prize in 2003. She later received another consortium prize for $7500.
When working on her pieces, she likes to listen to NPR.
“It takes a piece of my mind away so my mind can be more Zen. The judgmental and critical mind drops away and is given over to NPR.”
When not working on her works of art, Prusa is a professor at the Florida Atlantic University teaching all levels of painting for undergraduate and graduate level. She has worked there for 19 years, but worked for 18 years prior teaching at Iowa State University. She has a husband and two children.
The Boca Raton Museum of Art is located within Mizner Park at 501 Plaza Real in Boca Raton. For more information on the museum, visit www.bocamuseum.org or call 561-392-2500. For more information on the artist, visit www.carolprusa.com.

Guests attend opening of the “Dark Light” exhibit on Aug. 20.

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Forrest commits to FAU

Posted on 03 May 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

Blanche Ely High School senior basketball star Michael Forrest is taking his basketball talents 12 miles north to Boca Raton as he continues his hoops career.

Forrest, who led the Tigers to the state championship, made the announcement that he was headed to play basketball at Florida Atlantic University on his Twitter page and honored his grandmother in the process.

I would like to thank my grandma for instilling in me the value of life and working hard to achieve my goals. HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA,” Forrest wrote on Twitter. “With that being said, I am pleased to announce that I will be continuing my athletic and academic career at Florida Atlantic University. GO OWLS.”

Forrest averaged 26 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals per game for the Tigers and helped Blanche Ely win their 5th state championship in seven seasons as they cruised past Jacksonville Creekside, 77-54, in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 8A state championship on Saturday night at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Forrest, who was named the Sun Sentinel’s Player of the Year this season, was also a first-team All-County selection as a junior when he averaged 14 points a game for the regional finalist.

She’s the one that’s always pushed me to be better,” said Forrest of the inspiration and motivation he was provided from his grandmother. “She said she would rather have me set a high bar and almost make it than set it low and get [there].”

Newly-hired FAU Men’s Basketball coach Dusty May said he was going to make South Florida recruiting a “high priority.”

Forrest also wrote: “I would like to thank GOD for giving me the ability to play the game of basketball. Thank you to all of the schools that have recruited me. I would also like to thank the coaches of Blanche Ely: Mr. Randall, Coach Reg, Coach BJ, Romaine Roshane and Dallas for pushing me and taking my game to the next level.

Thank you to Coach Sweat and the South Florida Spartans organization for believing in me,” he continued. “Thank you to my No. 1 supporters, my parents, for supporting me through everything.”

Junior lifeguard program gearing up

A little more than a month remains before the Junior Lifeguard program begins this summer.

Nemia L. Schulte, president of the Pompano Beach Junior Lifeguards, said registration for the four summer sessions is ongoing during business hours at the Pompano Aquatic Center.

She said there will be a parents’ meeting to discuss the summer schedule for the 2018 Junior Lifeguard/Grommets Program on Thursday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the Civic Center.

The Junior Lifeguard program will compete on June 30 in the state competition (Ft. Lauderdale), then July 28 at the Regionals (Flagler Beach) and then on Aug. 8 at the Nationals in (Virginia Beach, VA.).

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Crystal Lake Golf Club closes

Posted on 22 March 2018 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

After more than a half a century, the Crystal Lake Golf Club in Deerfield Beach has closed.

Many of the golfers sat around the bar on the final day on March 11 and spoke of the memories they had at the course. Several had moved over four years earlier when the nearby Deerfield Country Club closed in 2014.

Lighthouse Point’s Dottie Birney played at the course for five years. The 6,953-yard championship par 72 golf course was built in 1965 and re-designed by Rees Jones in 1981. It was then renovated in 2000.

This place was nice because it was a working man’s golf course,” Birney said. “It is a nice place to meet and have fun with all kinds of people. It was a good golf course, a challenging golf course, and I am going to miss it a whole helluva lot.

The ladies that I play with came here four times a week,” Birney added, “You could come to it, it’s a social place and this was a home away from home. It was a warm nice place. I don’t know where we are going to go now.”

Boca Raton’s John Nixdorf also came over from Deerfield Country Club four years ago. He said they had a regular Saturday group.

It has been a great spot for the Deerfield Country Club crew to get together and play,” Nixdorf said. “They were really accommodating to us on tee times. It is sad that they are closing, and it was crippling that Deerfield [Country Club]closed…we developed a very nice community [about 20 golfers] and had people of all different levels.”

Hillsboro Beach’s Don Forster played three to four times a week at Crystal Lake. The 88-year-old recorded 13 of his 14 hole-in-ones at the Deerfield Country Club before moving over to Crystal Lake.

I was at the Deerfield Country Club for 20 years,” Forster said. “Deerfield felt like a home because everybody knew everybody. I have a lot of fond memories there, but I am sad to see this place close too. All I do is eat, drink and play golf.”

Deerfield Beach city commissioners agreed to allow more than 400 homes to be built on the 109-acre Crystal Lake course in August 2017. A total of 290 houses and 125 townhouses are expected to be built on the parcel.

Storey inducted into FAU Baseball Ring of Honor

Deerfield Beach High School graduate Mickey Storey carved out a nice career with the Bucks before he went on to play at Florida Atlantic University and eventually a professional career.

Storey, who turned 32 on March 16, got an early birthday present just days earlier as he was among five inducted in the Florida Atlantic University Baseball Ring of Honor prior to the start of the Owls’ doubleheader win over Seton Hall at the FAU Baseball Stadium.

Storey (2005-08) was inducted along with four former Owl players, including Hugh Adams (2009-13), Bill Cobe (1981-82), Darryl Powell (1981-82) and his former Owls head coach, Kevin Cooney. Cooney was unable to make the ceremony.

The 2004 graduate of Deerfield Beach High School was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 22nd round of the 2007 MLB Draft but did not sign and was then drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 31st round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

Storey, pitched in the major leagues for Houston and Toronto, making his major-league debut with the Astros in 2012. In January, Storey was named manager of the Houston Astros minor league affiliate – the Class A Quad Cities River Bandits based in Des Moines, Iowa. They play in the Midwest League.

Storey made his coaching debut last season as a development coach with Houston’s Carolina League affiliate, Buies Creek. His assignment with the defending Midwest League champions will be his first as a manager.

Storey lives in Wellington with his wife, Monique and their three children.

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FAU ends with loss to Old Dominion

Posted on 11 December 2014 by LeslieM

sports121114Finished season 3-9, 6th Conference USA

By Jacob Shendell

Old Dominion defeated Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the final minutes last Saturday on a 27-yard field goal 31-28. Much like FAU’s other losses this year, they could do nothing but watch as Old Dominion held onto the ball for the last five minutes of the game, much like four of the other games the Owls played this season.

FAU recognized 19 players in a pre-game ceremony who were playing their final game at FAU Stadium.

In the midst of what looks to be another failure of a season, the Owls did land a $16 million donation from Richard Schmidt to help build a new athletic facility to boost the football program, and, hopefully, propel them to the next level.

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Smith signs with FAU

Posted on 04 December 2014 by LeslieM

sports120414By Gary Curreri

Kaitlyn Smith won’t be far from home when it comes to playing collegiate sports. The Highlands Christian Academy senior will be playing just 6 miles up Interstate-95 from the school’s campus.

Smith, 18, a Ft. Lauderdale native who lives in Deerfield Beach, will play sand volleyball for Florida Atlantic University (FAU). Smith has been at Highlands Christian Academy for 12 1/2 years.

I have been playing sand volleyball for five years,” Smith said. “One of my friends (Kealey Wik) asked me to play one time and I have loved it ever since. She is an inspiration to me.”

Smith said she loves how the sport keeps her in shape and how it is a beautiful atmosphere on the beach.

I have made a lot of relationships and it presents both mental and physical challenges, which have made me strong and who I am today,” Smith said. “Winning is important to me, but how you get there is what matters. When I play, I worry about how I play, how I can help improve my partner and my game. I also make sure that I supply good sportsmanship.”

She also plays for the Tribe indoor volleyball club and DVA Sand volleyball. She played in the Junior Olympics in California and competed in the High Performance All-Star program in Deerfield Beach.

Smith carries a 4.0 gradepoint- average and is dual enrolled at FAU. She selected the Boca Raton school over four other schools, including Stetson, Florida Gulf Coast, University of Florida (UF) and the University of Central Florida. She visited all of the schools except for UF. She plans to study criminology and math.

I chose FAU because it is close, a great school and [has] incredible coaching,” Smith said. “Head coach Capri (Grotowski), and her assistants Kendra (Van Zwieten) and Tammy (Pelski), are a few of the best there is … so, who wouldn’t chose FAU?”

Smith said she was pleased with the Knights indoor volleyball season. The team finished 16-9. She finished with 13 kills, 75 service points, 27 assists and 718 digs. Smith is the No. 1 ranked libero in the state, according to MaxPreps, and is ranked No. 65 in the nation.

We had a great season,” Smith said. “Even though we didn’t finish how we planned, I learned a lot. As always, I kept my skills up while I was away from the sand.”

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FAU’s Best NFL player

Posted on 10 January 2013 by LeslieM

By Scott Morganroth

Former FAU QB Rusty Smith was the first Owls player ever selected in the NFL Draft being chosen in the sixth round, 176 overall, by the Tennessee Titans in 2010, but he hasn’t played the best.

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected tight-end Rob Housler in the third round, 69th overall, and he was the team’s fourth leading receiver with 45 catches for 417 yards this season.

The best player ever drafted from FAU was running back Alfred Morris. There have only been three Owls picked in the NFL Draft. But Morris, who turned 24 on Dec. 12, had a monster rookie season playing in the same backfield as Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. He rushed for 1,613 yards, with a 4.8 average and 13 touchdowns. He was second in the league in rushing. Morris broke the Redskins single season rushing record previously held by former Miami Hurricane Clinton Portis, who had 1,516 yards. He broke Charley Taylor’s rookie season touchdown total of 10.

In the Redskins final regular season game, a 28-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys that gave Washington its first NFC East title since 1999, all Morris did was amass 33 carries for 200 yards and three touchdowns. It was Washington’s first playoff appearance since 2007. Not bad for a guy who was a sixth round pick, 173 overall, who Washington selected in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings on July 27, 2011 for Donovan McNabb. Morris became the fourth player in NFL History to ever record over 1,600 yards rushing in his rookie year. It’s safe to say that Redskins Owner Dan Snyder got a bargain when he signed Morris to a four-year $2.22 million contract with a $154,000 signing bonus on May 6, 2012. Now, McNabb is out of football and is doing radio in Philadelphia. But leave little doubt that with Snyder’s deep pockets of signing veteran free agents which failed to produce, Morris will have a new contract soon enough.

What a difference a year makes. In 2011, Morris was the best player on a 1-11 FAU team. In 2012, he’s put FAU on the map, playing a key role in the Redskins 10-6 season and, as long as he stays healthy, the youngster out of Pensacola, Florida has a bright future ahead of him. The Redskins front office know they have found a hidden gem to build their offense around while FAU can use Morris as a recruiting tool to build its young program.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scott sports33.com.

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FAU Ends 2012 Season

Posted on 13 December 2012 by LeslieM

Dec. 1, 2012 wasn’t a good day for the Pelini brothers. First, FAU Coach Carl Pelini saw his team commit key turnovers as his Owls lost their finale 35-21 to the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. FAU’s home loss saw the Owls drop to 3-9, 2-6 in the Sun Belt Conference. Louisiana improved to 8-4 and 6-2.

Hours later, Bo Pelini’s Nebraska Cornhuskers had a chance to win the Big Ten Conference.

But the Wisconsin Badgers (8-5) had other ideas … crushing the Cornhuskers 70-31 at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Wisconsin got the automatic bid to the BCS Championship Series and they’ll face Stanford in the Rose Bowl. Nebraska (10-3) will play Georgia (11-2) in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando.

During the Louisiana game, FAU trailed 21-14 at halftime and amassed 528 yards in total offense. At one point, FAU led 14-7.

The key turnovers halted scoring drives, as FAU had three turnovers with one fumble and two interceptions by senior QB Graham Wilbert, who played in his last game. Wilbert finished the 2012 season with 2,814 yards and only six interceptions.

He’ll spend the rest of the winter and beginning of the spring getting ready for FAU’s Pro Day.

Junior William Dukes had a career day against Louisiana catching nine passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. He led FAU receivers with 979 yards.

Next on Pelini’s agenda is the recruiting trail as he prepares to improve on this season.

Now that football is over, the shift is to Men’s Basketball. On Sunday, FAU faced the Warner Royals, who were 6-4. The Warner Royals public relations staff never brought any game notes for the media, nor did they bring their “A” game, as FAU cruised to an 83-50 win at “The Burrow” in a contest that started at 3 p.m.

Before the game, I wondered how many people would show up since there was a full slate of NFL games. Believe it or not, there were plenty of fans and it was a half way decent atmosphere. FAU improved to 5-4.

Greg Gantt led FAU with 19 points and Stefan Moody had 18. One notable newcomer to the FAU roster is 7 ft. center Dragen Sekelja, from Zagreb, Croatia, who transferred from Baylor. His presence was felt as he grabbed 11 rebounds against Warner.

OWLS NOTES: Former FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos is the new Associate Director of Athletics/Compliance Services for my alma-mater, the University of South Florida Bulls in Tampa.

Finally, the 2013 season will be the last in the Sun Belt Conference for FAU and Middle Tennessee, as both are headed to Conference USA in 2014. They’ll join FIU and North Texas, who are expected to be members of Conference USA in 2013.

The FAU/FIU rivalry will resume in 2014, after taking a oneyear hiatus in 2013.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

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OWL CORNER

Posted on 08 November 2012 by LeslieM

By Scott Morganroth

FAU’s 24-17 loss to Navy on the road Saturday, Nov. 3, guaranteed them one thing.

There will no post-season for the Owls and new head coach Carl Pelini.

The Owls are 2-7 and 1-4 in the Sun Belt Conference. The only team behind them is Conference USA bound Florida International University (FIU), which is 2-8 and 1-5. These squads face each other on Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. at FAU Stadium in the Shula Bowl.

Why the Owls are in the position they’re in is defined by the numbers based on the 2012 Overall FBS Rankings.

• FAU is 91st overall in passing yards-per-game with 201.3.

• The Owls are ranked 102nd in the nation with 123.6 rushing yards-per-game.

• The team is 118th in scoring with 18.2 points-per-game.

• FAU is 86th allowing 30.3 points-per-game.

When you’re at the bottom echelon in the nation of all these major statistical categories, it’s a recipe for disaster. After nine games, it’s safe to say that Pelini has seen plenty of game film and knows where the weaknesses are with this program when he goes back on the recruiting trail.

The team leaders are QB Graham Wilbert, who is 185-280, 1775 yards, 12 touchdown passes and only three interceptions for a 131.3 rating.

Jonathan Wallace is the Owls’ top running back with 124 carries, 493 yards and four touchdowns.

The main targets include wide receivers Byron Hankerson and William Dukes. Hankerson has 23 receptions for 308 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dukes is the team leader with 39 catches, 555 yards and a pair of touchdowns. FAU’s 34-27 victory over Troy on Oct. 27 was the first time that they defeated the Trojans at home in the season series between these two schools. The last time that FAU defeated Troy was on Dec. 1, 2007, 38-32, and this earned the Owls a Sun Belt Conference Championship, which led to a New Orleans Bowl win over Memphis, 44-27, on Dec. 21, 2007.

Troy’s Will Scott did set a school record with a 52-yard field goal on Oct. 27.

The last time FAU defeated a Sun Belt Conference opponent at home was when the Owls defeated the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 13, 2010 at Lockhart Stadium, 24-23.

This same season, Troy whipped FAU, 44-7, on Dec. 4. FAU travels to Western Kentucky Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff, followed by the FIU contest. The Owls conclude their regular season at home on Dec. 1 as they face Louisiana-Lafayette at 3 p.m.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com

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FAU’s struggles continue

Posted on 10 October 2012 by LeslieM

By Scott Morganroth

The FAU Owls may have a new coach, but, through five games into the 2012 regular season, the results still haven’t changed.

FAU is 1-4 and 0-2 in the Sun Belt Conference. This weekend, the good news is FAU didn’t lose. The bad news is they didn’t win. In other words, they were off and have had time to practice and regroup as they approach the final seven games, realizing that the Owls lone win was against an FCS school in Wagner College on August 31.

The Owls most recent defeat occurred on Sept. 28 against North Texas, dropping a 20-14 decision at FAU Stadium. FAU led in a category that you don’t want to lead in as the Owls had a 3-1 edge in turnovers.

FAU QB Graham Wilbert had two interceptions and the Owls lost a fumble. FAU trailed North Texas 10-0 at halftime. Wilbert was 21-34-142 yards and also had eight carries and scored a rushing touchdown. Running back Damian Fortner had 17 carries for 63 yards and one touchdown.

North Texas gained 307 yards in total offense in 60 plays while FAU utilized 71 plays for 301 yards.

When the game was over, Coach Carl Pelini said he planned to review the film and find out what went wrong and what it will take to fix the Owls’ problems.

“It’s the same thing, we just don’t know how to win,” Pelini said. “We don’t know how to win as a football team or as a football program. When the game is on the line, we couldn’t get over the hump. When the score is 0-0, we make mistakes over and over again. We didn’t convert in the red zone, made mistakes defensively, gave up the wrong big play. When we’re down 17-0, we start to play until it gets close again, then the pressure is on us again and we don’t perform. That’s what we have to learn as a football program and that’s to perform when the pressure is on.”

Next up for FAU is a pair of Sun Belt Conference road games. On Saturday, the Owls face the University of Louisiana Monroe on Oct. 13 followed by an Oct. 20 contest against the University of South Alabama.

FAU returns home to face Troy University on Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. Three important games will dictate where this program goes and the direction of its first year head coach.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

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Owls win ugly Opener, 7-3

Posted on 06 September 2012 by LeslieM

If there were ever a time to be late for a football game (due to a prior commitment), then FAU’s home Opener Friday night against Wagner College was it.

I arrived at 9:10 p.m. with five minutes left in the second quarter and FAU trailing the Seahawks, 3-0. The first person I saw was Assistant Athletic Director and Media Relations Director Katrina McCormack. She smiled and said, “things worked out for you.” This meant that I didn’t miss much.

By halftime, FAU had amassed a mere 79 yards in total offense.

The Owls woke up during the fourth quarter as QB Graham Wilbert connected with wide receiver Byron Hankerson for a 39-yard touchdown pass with 11:36 left in the game. The drive was one play for 39 yards and the time of possession was seven seconds.

The 14,510 fans had their first win of the season before Labor Day. (Last season, it was after Thanksgiving before FAU won their first game. The Owls defeated UAB 38-35 on Nov. 26, 2011 in a 1-11 season.)

Wilbert went 10-13, had no interceptions for 126 yards and one touchdown. Hankerson had five receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. Running back Martese Jackson gained 99 yards on 21 carries as FAU finished the game with 327 total offensive yards.

They defeated Wagner, which is located in Staten Island, New York and has been playing football since 1927. Going into the FAU contest, Wagner had an alltime record of 379-324-19 for a .534 winning percentage. They currently play in the Football Championship Series (FCS), a level below FAU, which participates in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

FAU has been playing football since 2001 and the Owls record is 58-74 for a .439 winning percentage. Despite being on different levels, the FCS schools compete well against the FBS squads.

(On Sept.1, 2007, Appalachian State put the FCS on the map, defeating the Michigan Wolverines, 34-32, in Ann Arbor, MI, in one of the biggest upsets in college football history.)

During week one of this season, FAU’s next opponent, Middle Tennessee State, lost 27-21 to McNeese State. Another FCS upset occurred in Pittsburgh, as Youngstown State defeated the Panthers, 31-17, of the Big East at Heinz Field.

These FCS schools are good and they produce quality NFL players. Former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton and San Francisco ‘49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice began their Hall of Fame careers at FCS institutions.

When the game was over, FAU Coach Carl Pelini admitted he had butterflies during his head coaching debut.

“This was just another football game, but we prepared as best as we could,” Pelini said. “Nothing that happened out there shocked me. Graham did it for us. We made mistakes, no panic, and I will not apologize for a win.

“Our greatest leap should be between weeks one and two.”

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