Miami Sports Day

FIU: Panthers Stop Owls to Preserve Win, 13-7

HOUSTON — FIU needed a late fourth quarter defensive stand and two Jose Borregales field goals for the Panthers to defeat Rice, 13-7, Saturday night at historic Rice Stadium in Houston.

With less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter and FIU leading 13-7, Rice had first-and-goal from the FIU 9.

The Panthers (2-1, 1-0 Conference USA) defense rose to the occasion stopping the Owls (1-3, 1-1 C-USA) on four consecutive plays to preserve the win.

On fourth-and-goal from the 11, Owls quarterback Jackson Tyner’s pass sailed over receiver Aaron Cephus and past the back of the end zone to give FIU the ball on downs. Niko Gonzalez, Sage Lewis and Anthony Johnson came through with crucial tackles on the preceding three downs. Lewis had a tackle for loss that backed the Owls to the 11.

The FIU defense limited Rice to 248 total yards and recorded a pair of sacks by Newt Salisbury and Jermaine Sheriff. Linebacker Anthony Wint led FIU with 10 tackles. Treyvon Williams had two tackles for loss.

FIU took over with 1:06 left in the game and Rice having two timeouts. The Owls used the timeouts to force FIU to punt from its end zone with five seconds left in the game. Panthers punter Stone Wilson ran out of the side of the end zone to take a safety that also ran out the clock. However, an FIU holding penalty forced the Panthers to run an untimed down from their 4 after the Owls elected to take the penalty over the safety. FIU quarterback Alex McGough took a knee on the untimed play and the Panthers were winners, 13-7.

FIU separated itself from Rice on the strength of Borregales’s right leg at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half.

Tied 7-7 with 49 seconds left in the second quarter, the Panthers drove to the Owls 27 with their passing game to set up the go-ahead field goal. McGough had completions of 23 and 18 yards to Thomas Owens. McGough then connected with Darrius Scott for 22 yards to the Rice 27. Borregales knocked home a 44-yard field goal as the second quarter clock expired to give the Panthers a 10-7 lead.

FIU got the ball first to start the third quarter and again put up three points. McGough had a couple of completions to march the Panthers into field goal range. McGough found Tony Gaiter IV on a short pass that Gaiter IV took 37 yards to the Rice 34. McGough completed a 10-yard pass to Scott to the 24. Borregales extended the FIU lead to 13-7 after the redshirt freshman was true on a 37-yard field goal.

FIU marched 80 yards at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter to score its lone touchdown. McGough sparked the drive with his legs, rushing for 35 yards. McGough connected with tight end Pharoah McKever on an 8-yard crossing route to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

McGough was 17 of 28 for 172 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. Alex Gardner led the Panthers on the ground with 80 yards. Gaiter had four receptions for 54 yards to lead the FIU pass catchers.

FIU returns home for its next game and its home opener. The Panthers host Charlotte at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

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