Last week, it was a 17-point deficit.
This week, it was the football team’s quarterback and team leader suffering a season-ending injury.
The Owls overcame adversity again, defeating Miami (Ohio), 24-17, Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field to improve to 3-5 overall and 3-2 in the Mid-American Conference.
Red-shirt junior quarterback Adam DiMichele, who orchestrated the Owls’ first two victories in come-from-behind fashion, was injured in the second quarter after being sacked. He fractured his left tibia and will miss the rest of the season.
In DiMichele’s absence, sophomore Vaughn Charlton stepped in capably. He completed 9-of-13 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.
The touchdown was a thing of beauty, as Charlton faked a toss to freshman running back Daryl Robinson and heaved a 61-yard bomb to junior wide receiver Bruce Francis to give the Owls a 21-7 lead in the third quarter.
He said the touchdown did more than put six points on the board.
“It let me regain my composure,” Charlton said. “When I let go, I knew it was a good ball and I hoped that Bruce would come down with it, which he did. At first I was shaky, but then I calmed down and after seeing Adam at halftime, I improved mentally.”
Francis, who had two catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, said the Owls will be able to make it through the final four games with Charlton under center.
“As he showed in the second half, he can come in and lead this team,” Francis said. “Even though Adam is hurt and we’re going to pray for him, Vaughn is a good quarterback and he can lead us through this final stretch of the season.”
Golden said he also is confident with Charlton at the helm.
“He’s the kind of guy,” Golden said, “he’s patting me on the butt and saying, `I got it coach.’ He’s got confidence. As I’ve said to you all along, he’s a good football player; Vaughn is a good football player. It just so happened that he wasn’t the starter at the beginning [of the season]. He’s the starter now.”
Charlton wasn’t the only Owl coming off the bench to contribute mightily.
Sophomore defensive end Junior Galette was a terror to the RedHawks, notching three sacks and forcing a fumble among his 6.5 tackles.
Sophomore linebacker Alex Joseph had a team-high eight stops and sophomore John Haley, who seems to have a knack for making big plays, snagged an interception.
The defense wreaked havoc on the RedHawks’ offense all afternoon.
Though RedHawks’ quarterback Daniel Raudabaugh compiled 314 yards through the air, he needed 57 attempts to do so. So that number can be misleading.
But this number is not.
The Owls’ defense stifled the RedHawk ground game, limiting them to 56 yards on the ground.
The Owls now have a week to ride their first three-game winning streak since they won the final two games of the 2001 season and the first game of the 2002 season. The last time the Owls won three straight during the same season was 1990.
Now, the Owls look to grasp their first four-game winning streak since 1985.
And maybe more people will be watching.
Golden said the Owls are playing tough and with heart.
“When I came, here that’s what we wanted to do, play Philly-style football.”
For the last three games, the Owls have done just that.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.