Saturday, October 3, 2020

Back In My Element

 BY SCOTT MORGANROTH 

There is no place better for me than being in a press box.

Thanks to Covid-19, games that I would ordinarily cover turned out to be credential requests denied. This has been mostly the case in the NFL as seating capacity has drastically been reduced.

Remote broadcasting has been the theme in the Sports World in 2020. 

Announcers are calling games from their homes and studios. 

Pre-game access is limited to Media Availability on Zoom, Webex and other forms of video conferencing outlets.

Of all the press boxes that I’ve been working, there is no better view than FAU Stadium, the home of the Owls, here in Boca Raton, Florida. It’s the only stadium where you can see the ocean, as the Atlantic Ocean is 1.8 miles east.

During the past two weeks, the Owls were scheduled to hit the road to face Georgia Southern and than host the University of South Florida last week. Those games never came to fruition as COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head.

FAU finally got on the field and the Owls were glad that they could finally hit someone other than themselves. At long last, the long awaited debut of Head Coach Willie Taggart arrived as he faced the Charlotte 49’ers.

The Owls looked like a team that were trying to find their footing as they fell behind 10-0 at the half.

But things changed drastically in the third quarter as Tronti led the Owls to 21 unanswered points. He ran for a 49-yard touchdown. He followed that up throwing two touchdown passes. Other key third quarter efforts came from Larry McCammon III who had a key 35-yard run which set up a TD. FAU’s defense caused UNCC to lose a fumble that led to another TD.

UNCC wasn’t going away. The 49’ers put together a drive that was 10 plays for 75-yards which took 3:57 to cut the lead to 21-17 with 13:00 in the fourth quarter.

Both teams had their opportunities to score in the final quarter, but the Owls hung on to a 21-17 win, in what would turn out to be a rainy ending. FAU recorded two key sacks inside of the final 26 seconds, as UNCC was driving in the red zone.

Tronti was 11-22-98 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 10 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown. He accounted for all of FAU’s TD’s.

During halftime, Taggart had words of wisdom for his QB.

“I told him to calm down, you know how to do this and in the second half, he was starting to make some good reads.”

Taggart earned his first triumph as FAU Coach and was relieved to not only play this first game but win it as well.

I asked Taggart what was like to finally hit some other players and not your own? 

“It was like Christmas,” he said. “I had my fingers crossed and when we were able to play and Charlotte was able too, I said yes!”

Taggart summed up the opening week and said, “it was good to see our football team play a game. In the first half nothing went right. But it was good seeing them come back and multiple players made plays.

“I told these guys that adversity is going to hit. The guys took these words and ran with it. They responded to it. All the adversity we went through paid off. This is a group of young  people that play for one another.

“I’m excited about the football team we have and where we can go. It’s great to win In Paradise.”

The 1-0 Owls hit the road and face Southern Mississippi. They now lead their overall series with Charlotte 4-2.

While Taggart was pleased to win In Paradise, it was great being Back In My Element In Paradise.

Barring any COVID-19 issues, I look forward to returning in my serene spot in paradise as FAU faces the University of Texas-San Antonio on October 31, at Noon ET.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at southfloridatribune@gmail.com.

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