Panthers beat up Miners

Miami, FL – The Florida International University Panthers beat up the Miners 32-17 Saturday night, taking care of UTEP to extend their winning streak to three. James Morgan led the way, completing nine of 17 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown, tying Paul McCall for third-most touchdown passes at FIU. A mark set in 2005-2009. It was also Anthony Jones’ third consecutive game over the century mark, rushing for 102 yards and a TD. 

FIU’s defense cut Miner’s first drive short with an interception by Rishard Dames, converting it to a 32-yard field goal via Jose Borregales. UTEP answered back with a touchdown before the end of the quarter in a 13-play, 75-yard effort. The defense would later pounce on a high snap, causing a safety.

It was all Panthers the rest of the way, taking quick control in the early stages of the second quarter. Morgan connected with junior wideout Shemar Thornton for the nine-yard score. 

Borregalas flashed the golden boot, nailing a 34-yard field goal and another, this time at 46 yards to make it 18-7. He was money all night going three for three. For the redshirt junior, once he makes contact he knows whether it’ll be successful or not.

“When you hit that A ball, you don’t even have to look up,” Borregalas said.

Jones sealed it for FIU with the 2-yard rushing touchdown early in the final quarter.

The blue and gold are now 3-1 all-time against UTEP, winning the last three consecutive meetings. 

It was another largely flawless game by the offense who ranks top 10 in the country for turnovers allowed, they’ve only given up the ball five times this season. That’s some efficient football there, conservative or no. The team tops the C-USA with the same stat.

Coach Butch Davis was happy with the defense but did mention the most disappointing thing of the night was their inability to finish drives, a problem early in the season.

“When you don’t take advantage you always worry if it’s going to come back to haunt you,” Davis said. In his many years of coaching, its those types of games that scare him the most.

 

What It Means

The Panthers look and feel like a team ready to make a run to the top of the East Division of the conference. They’re currently chasing after the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (5-2, 4-0 C-USA) and while they beat FIU 20-14 earlier in the season, there’s a lot that can still happen. As Butch Davis said, they gotta take it one game at a time. Their next slate of games will definitely be intriguing with road games at Middle Tennessee and FAU along with a cupcake home game against Old Dominion. Despite their record, the Blue Raiders shouldn’t be taken lightly and the Shula Bowl at Boca Raton will likely be a real slugfest. 

If they somehow win all three of those games, then the conversation will really begin with a bowl game in the cards. They’re preaching a one game at a time message but given the struggles of the Hurricanes, the UM game at Marlins Park is definitely circled on the calendar. Just think, Captain Morgan versus N’Kosi Perry/Jarren Williams (And Tate Martell because why not). Can you imagine if the Panthers somehow pulled an upset at the Battle for Miami? I won’t go out on a limb and say the odds are good but it’s no less an interesting game to look forward to. Remember, the Canes didn’t want to play at Riccardo Silva Stadium and Florida International either played its home game at the Hard Rock or over at Marlins Park…where the Orange Bowl used to be. Time for the Miami Beach Bowl redux!

Game Notes

  • FIU’s total yardage for tonight’s game 335, 150 yards in the air and 185 yards on the ground
  • Napoleon Maxell rushed nine times for 37 yards and a touchdown
  • 0 turnovers for the home team, while forcing two fumbles
  • Time of possession: UTEP (37:08) FIU ( 22:52)

Postgame

Photo Credit 

Danis Sosa

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Gabriel Garcia
Just an avid sports fan who happens to have a love-hate (mostly love) relationship with his local teams be it collegiate or professional and also happens to be a news junkie. Mix in outstanding optimism with cold realism and you've got yourself a balanced cocktail perfect for champions.

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