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FAU’s Willie Taggart happy with second-half improvements in season opener, but feels more can be made

The FAU Owls relied on steady defensive play in their season opener versus Charlotte on Saturday at FAU Stadium, and were rewarded with a 21-17 victory.



a group of people standing next to a football ball: FAU coach Willie Taggart watches his team play Charlotte on Saturday.


© Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS
FAU coach Willie Taggart watches his team play Charlotte on Saturday.

Despite having several first-time starters, FAU’s defense was stout and held down the fort for significant stretches of the game after the Owls went scoreless in the first half.

Outside linebacker Leighton McCarthy won Conference USA defensive player of the week Monday after having 10 tackles (five solo), three sacks and a forced fumble against Charlotte. The Owls had six sacks and 12 tackles for losses in the game.

“When I walked into the locker room [at halftime], I heard the defense fired up, and telling the offense ‘we got your back,’ ” Taggart said. “I told the offense we needed to match the defense’s energy right now, and the way you do that is making plays. They took the challenge. They didn’t fold and they didn’t give in.”

The 49ers didn’t score in the middle two quarters, which allowed FAU to take a 21-17 lead with all of its touchdowns coming in the third quarter.

Quarterback Nick Tronti was better in the second half in the first start of his collegiate career. He completed all six of his passes for 68 yards in the final two quarters, finishing with 98 passing yards and two touchdowns on 11-of-22 passes for the game.

Taggart said the offense could improve its start to games by Tronti settling down earlier and the offensive line being more physical.

“When it comes to Nick, he’s got to go through his progressions,” he said. “I didn’t think Nick did that in the first half. It was just dropping back and trying to

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Pets of the week: Dozer and Haley are two happy, energetic dogs in need of new homes

JACKSON, MI — The Jackson County Animal Shelter, 3770 Spring Arbor Road, has many pets available for adoption.

Here are two of them.

Dozer is a 3-year-old male American Staffordshire mix, who is a strong, energetic guy that likes to play outside. Dozer is working on learning basic commands and is treat motivated.

Haley is a 3-year-old female terrier/American Staffordshire mix. Haley loves her human and wants to be at your side. She is affectionate and sweet in her demeanor.

A meet-and-greet with a dog is mandatory. A cat room walk-through is available to test reaction. The dog adoption fee is $150, which includes vaccinations, microchip and sterilization.

Cat adoption fees are $60 for one cat, $80 for two, which includes applicable tests, vaccines and spay/neutering.

Visiting the shelter is always best, but other adoption resources include online applications at https://www.co.jackson.mi.us/DocumentCenter/View/803, faxing 517-780-4750 or emailing [email protected]

The shelter’s current hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

More information is available on the shelter’s Facebook page. See more pets available for adoption at jcasmichigan.petfinder.com.

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