Buoyed by 100-yard performances from Alex Gardner, Anthony Jones, Thomas Owens and a season-high in touchdown passes by Alex McGough, FIU turned in its best offensive performance of the season in a 35-21 victory over UTEP Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.
Gardner rushed for 141 yards to give him four 100-plus yard rushing games this season and tie the program record of eight held by former FIU running back Kedrick Rhodes. Jones rushed for 128 yards to give FIU two or more 100-yard rushers in the same game for just the second time in program history.
FIU had three rushers go for more than 100 yards each in 2010 against Troy. The Panthers rushed for a program-record 448 yards that day with Darriet Perry, T.Y. Hilton and Darian Mallary all rushing for more than 100 yards in the game.
Owens had 125 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns to lead FIU. McGough finished 21-of-31 for 241 yards and three touchdown passes.
The Panthers trailed 7-3 midway through the second quarter before scoring 17 unanswered points to take control of the game. Tight end A.J. Branisel had his first touchdown in an FIU uniform to give the Panthers the lead. McGough found Branisel in the back of the end zone on the 1-yard touchdown pass with 7:23 left in the second quarter. FIU took the lead 10-7.
Early in the third quarter FIU made it 20-7 on the first of two receiving scores by Owens. The junior receiver caught his second touchdown – a nifty grab in the corner of the end zone for 23 yards. That score extended the FIU lead to 28-14 with 1:59 left in the third quarter.
FIU finished its scoring in the fourth quarter. This time the Panthers did it on the ground. Jones ripped off a 48-yard run to the UTEP 8. Two plays later Gardner coasted into the end zone from 9 yards out to make it 35-14 Panthers.
FIU heads to North Carolina next Saturday. The Panthers take on the Charlotte 49ers at 6 p.m. from Jerry Richardson Stadium.
via FIU Sports