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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 12/05/2008

Florida International Golden Panthers at Florida Atlantic Owls

This was a normal enough game through 45 minutes. After three quarters, the score was tied 22-22. That's when things got exciting. The Golden Panthers, who closed as five or 5.5-point underdogs, came out swinging to start the fourth and took a 36-22 lead.

The way the game had been going, with a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead, those backing the underdog had to like their chances. However, any feelings of comfort were short-lived. The Owls stormed back with two touchdowns in a span of 56 seconds.

That locked the score to 36-36. The excitement was just beginning though. Once again, the Golden Panthers scored a pair of touchdowns to take another 14-point advantage. Surely, this time the lead would be safe. Afterall, there was only 3:09 left.

The Owls weren't going down without a fight. After driving for a touchdown, they attempted an onside kick. Since you're reading about it in a column called Bad Beats, you probably already guessed that the the kick was successful.

After recovering the onside attempt, Florida Atlantic went to work. Moments later, with only 18 seconds remaining, quarterback Rusty Smith hooked up with Jamari Grant for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Much to the dismay of underdog bettors, FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger elected to kick the single point and force overtime.

The Golden Panthers won the toss and chose to play defense. Almost immediately, Rusty Smith threw his fifth touchdown pass to give the Owls a seven-point lead. After having blown two 14-point leads, Florida International was unable to respond. The demoralized Golden Panthers went three-and-out, while getting sacked on the final play of the game.

Final score: 57-50. Ouch.

This marked our second straight column in which a successful onside kick helped deliver the lethal blow to a team. Will next week make it three in a row?

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