The football team defeated the Rice Owls 36-17 at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday night. The Panthers improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 in Conference USA (C-USA). Here are a few takeaways from the game.
Grinding it out
The Owls entered Saturday’s game riding a six-game losing streak. Still, they gave the Panthers a fight.
Rice capped off its opening drive with a two-yard touchdown run by quarterback Evan Mashburn. The Panthers did not score until the beginning of the second quarter on a 32-yard field goal. They took the lead on 51-yard touchdown run from junior Maurice Alexander.
Following FIU’s first touchdown, graduate transfer Edwin Freeman hauled in an interception to set up a 33-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback James Morgan to junior Austin Maloney. The team entered halftime up 16-10.
FIU pulled away in the second half. After the team converted another field goal, Morgan found sophomore Shemar Thornton on a 29-yard toss to increase FIU’s lead. The Owls scored a touchdown near the end of the third quarter, but FIU answered with a touchdown run from Morgan—the first of his college career. The Panthers held on to decisively defeat the Owls 36-17.
The Panthers maintained a balanced attack on offense through the game. This time, D’Vonte Price led the way with 12 carries for 79 yards. The sophomore is averaging 6.3 yards per carry this season.
“It was a typical kind of FIU game. It was the running back of the week. This week, it was D’Vonte Price,” said head coach Butch Davis.
Senior Shawndarrius Phillips, senior Napoleon Maxwell and Price each have more than 300 rushing yards through seven games. Davis also expects senior Anthony Jones to return to action before the end of the season.
Alex McGough ’17 comes to visit
With his Seattle Seahawks on a bye week, Alex McGough returned to Modesto A. Maidique Campus to spend some time with the team. The stadium celebrated FIU’s all-time leading touchdown passer during a break in the action.
“It’s humbling to come back here and get honored and all of these people want to talk to me. It just shows the impression that I had on them and that they had on me, and I’m just grateful for this moment,” McGough said.
When McGough landed at the airport on Oct. 16, he rode straight to football practice.
“He sat in meetings all week long. He was out on the field stretching with the quarterbacks. It was almost like he never left,” Davis said.
“That’s the family atmosphere that we want to create. Every kid that graduates from this program is always welcomed back,” he added.
McGough’s brother, sophomore offensive lineman Shane McGough, is Morgan’s roommate on campus. That afforded the two some time to discuss quarterbacking. The signal callers also discussed the elephant in the room: Morgan wearing Alex’s old no. 12.
“He let me know about the number for sure. But if anything, [I’m trying] to follow in his footsteps and do the best that I can to learn from his game and try to replicate that in mine,” Morgan said.
The Panthers embark on a one-game road trip for a matchup with Western Kentucky University on Oct. 27. The Hilltoppers are 1-6 overall and 0-3 in C-USA.
FIU is now one win away from being eligible for a bowl game.