@FIUFootball Tops Charlotte, 27-26

FIU scored 14 points in the final seven minutes to rally past Charlotte 27-26 in thrilling fashion Saturday night at Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Down 26-13, quarterback Alex McGough connected with A.J. Branisel on a 15-yard touchdown to bring the Panthers (3-4, 3-0 Conference USA) within six points with 4:21 left in the game.

The 49ers (2-5, 1-2 C-USA) got a first down on the ensuing possession but decided to throw the ball two plays later. The pass was incomplete to stop the clock and give the Panthers one final shot.

Charlotte’s Hayden Pezzoni punted to the FIU 32 and on the return by Thomas Owens the 49ers incurred a late-hit penalty to move the ball to the Charlotte 45 with 1:39 left in the game.

On the first play of the game-winning drive McGough connected with Owens for 21 yards to the 49ers 24. Then another penalty hurt Charlotte. This time a pass interference penalty in the end zone by Nafees Lyon against Darrius Scott put the ball at the Charlotte 9.

McGough found Jonnu Smith on the next play for a 9-yard touchdown to tie the score 26-26. Austin Taylor followed with the decisive extra point to give FIU a 27-26 lead.

With 1:05 left in the game the 49ers drove to the FIU 32 but Blake Brewer, attempting his first field goal of the season, was short and wide left from 49 yards out to seal the Panthers victory. Brewer is the 49ers kickoff kicker and has a stronger leg than regular kicker Stephen Muscarello.

On a night when FIU struggled to run the ball, the Panthers had just 39 yards rushing, McGough was 26 of 42 for 315 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. McGough also scored the first touchdown of the game when he scrambled 19 yards for his third rushing touchdown of the season.

Owens had his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game with 11 catches for 148 yards.

Defensively, Anthony Wint led FIU with 13 tackles. Vontarius West had 10 tackles.

Charlotte took the lead in the third quarter. 49ers quarterback Hasaan Klugh snapped a 10-10 tie by scampering into the end zone from 12 yards out. Klugh hurt the Panthers with his legs and arm. The sophomore quarterback rushed for 95 yards and threw for 171 yards with one touchdown.

The 49ers appeared to salt the game away on a 3-yard run by Robert Washington early in the fourth quarter and a 32-yard field goal by Muscarello with 7:12 left in the game. Charlotte led 26-13 before a resilient FIU came back.

The Panthers are home next Saturday when they host Louisiana Tech at 6 p.m. from FIU Stadium.

via FIU Sports

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