Panthers fall to Hurricanes, 31-17

The football team (2-2, 1-0 in Conference USA) lost to the University of Miami in a 31-17 defeat at Hard Rock Stadium Sept. 22. Here are some takeaways from the game.

College football minds knew that playing the ranked Hurricanes on their home turf would be a big challenge for the Panthers, and the first half confirmed it.

FIU’s defense initially held back the Hurricanes. The unit made an impressive stop on fourth down at FIU’s own 39-yard line and allowed only one score in the first quarter. But UM took control of the game in the second quarter. Quarterback N’Kosi Perry tossed two touchdowns and the Panthers were unable to respond on offense. The Hurricanes took a 24-0 lead into the half.

“I was very disappointed offensively that we struggled. We knew going into the game that their defensive line was far and away the best we’ve faced in two years,” said head coach Butch Davis.

The Panthers were able to close the lead by outscoring UM 17-7 in the second half but didn’t have enough time for a comeback.

A wide receiver stands out

Junior quarterback James Morgan struggled to drive the offense in the first half, but in the fourth quarter he found junior wide receiver CJ Worton for several big plays.

Junior wide receiver CJ Worton tries to break away from UM defenders. He finished Saturday’s game with five catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

“Since the first day [Morgan] got here, he and I have taken it on ourselves to go in and put in extra work,” said Worton.

Worton was the catalyst and closer for both of FIU’s touchdown drives. On FIU’s first trip to the end zone, he made a 29-yard catch and, three plays later, secured a 35-yard touchdown grab. Later in the quarter Worton secured a 44-yard diving catch and a 5-yard score to cap it off. The former Florida Gator ended the game with five catches for 144 yards.

Looking ahead

Next on the schedule for FIU is a home game versus the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sept. 29, which will begin a stretch of three straight games at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Arkansas-Pine Bluff is FIU’s last non-conference game of the regular season.