One year ago, on Sept. 11, Hurricanes linebacker Darrion Owens sustained a severe injury to his right knee in the first quarter during the FAU game.
Owens, then a sophomore, sat on the sideline in tears.
Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium marked a much more joyous occasion for Owens, who made his comeback against that same Owls team after a long rehabilitation from reconstructive surgery.
Owens, now a 6-3, 245-pound redshirt sophomore out of Orange Park Oakleaf — the same school from which starting freshman middle linebacker Shaq Quarterman graduated — came into the game with about seven minutes left in the first quarter.
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Before Saturday he had 23 tackles his freshman season in 2014 and one pass breakup. Last year before he got hurt against FAU, he had four tackles.
▪ After sitting out last season as a transfer from the Florida Gators, defensive tackle Gerald Willis played in his first game Saturday as a Hurricane. Willis, a 6-4, 285-pound redshirt sophomore from New Orleans, was suspended in last week’s opener.
Saturday, he came in at about 12:30 of FAU’s opening drive.
▪ They wear Nos. 24 and 25 — little brother Travis Homer (24), a Miami freshman running back and big brother Tevin Homer (25), an FAU senior cornerback.
The brothers, extremely close, were hoping they’d get a chance to face off against each other Saturday, even if it ended up being on special teams.
It wasn’t as easy for their parents: mom Karri Valot and dad Keith Homer of Boynton Beach.
“I’m excited, but I just want it over with!’’ said Valot, laughing, on Friday night. “They both want each other to do well, but they definitely want to have a shot at each other. I want them both to do well.’’
Family members each wore T-shirts with “HOUSE DIVIDED’’ and clashing FAU and UM helmets on the front and “HOMER’’ with each of their jersey numbers on the back.
“Whatever they do on the field Saturday,’’ Keith Homer said, “I want them to be winners doing it.’’
Keith was a wide receiver for Fort Lauderdale Dillard in 1982.
Unfortunately, the first play that highlighted Travis was a bad one for UM, when he was called for roughing the kicker on an FAU punt, which gave the Owls an automatic first down late in the first quarter. Big bro Tevin immediately shared words with little bro on the field – and UM went on to stop the Owls on the drive.
▪ Michael Badgley, a third-team All-ACC kicker last season, had a 24-yard field-goal attempt blocked Saturday in the first quarter by Trey Hendrickson. Last week, Badgley missed a 33-yard attempt in the first quarter.
▪ Defensive UM starters: Tackles Richard McIntosh and Kendrick Norton; ends Chad Thomas and Demetrius Jackson; linebackers Shaq Quarterman, Michael Pinckney and usual safety Jaquan Johnson getting his first start at linebacker; cornerbacks Corn Elder and Sheldrick Redwine; and safeties Rayshawn Jenkins and Jamal Carter.
▪ Offensive UM starters: left tackle Trevor Darling, left guard Kc McDermott, center Nick Linder, right guard Danny Isidora, right tackle Sunny Odogwu; quarterback Brad Kaaya; tailback Mark Walton; fullback Marquez Williams; tight end Christopher Herndon; receivers Stacy Coley and Ahmmon Richards.
▪ At the end of the first half, UM had six penalties for 65 yards. Last week, the Canes had six penalties for 54 yards all game...Defensive end Chad Thomas left the field hurt with 10:17 left in the first half. Trainers examined his upper right arm. He returned later in the half…Kaaya was 9 of 20 for 131 yards and two picks after the first half. FAU’s Jason Driskel was 10 of 21 for 84 yards and was sacked four times – one apiece by Michael Pinckney, Chad Thomas and Joe Jackson and a combo by Rayshawn Jenkins and R.J. McIntosh.