The best moments of FIU football in 2018

The Panthers (8-4, 6-2 in Conference USA) will play Toledo University in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in three days.

It’s been a season to remember. Despite losing key starters from last year’s team, FIU finished the season near the top of Conference USA. The Panthers will be 9-4 if they win their bowl game—the best record in FIU history.

Before the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, relive a few amazing moments from this season.

A huge win on homecoming

The cheerleaders were in peak form at the homecoming game.

Homecoming week was loaded with excitement. Students danced and rejoiced at Panthers Got Talent, Rich the Kid and Miguel rocked Panthermonium and fireworks illuminated the skies above Modesto A. Maidique Campus.

But the biggest show of the week was on Saturday night. The football team took down the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders for sole possession of first place in C-USA’s East Division.

The game came down to the fourth quarter. Down 21-16, senior quarterback James Morgan marched the offense down the field and tossed a 23-yard touchdown to senior CJ Worton. The Panthers attempted a two-point conversion and made it, thanks to a touch throw from junior wide receiver Maurice Alexander.

Junior defensive back Olin Cushion III sealed the win. With MTSU deep in FIU territory and under a minute to play, he made a leaping interception to end the game.

FIU was the only C-USA East team to defeat MTSU in 2018.

Alex McGough ’17 surprises the team

FIU’s all-time leading touchdown passer is a busy man. In April, Alex McGough was drafted in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He’s living the dream: a professional, full-time quarterback for an NFL team.

Still, he had time to visit his alma mater this year.

McGough landed at Miami International Airport on Oct. 16 (when the Seahawks had a bye week) and drove straight to football practice.

Alex McGough

His surprise visit echoed a growing theme: head coach Butch Davis is building a lasting culture at FIU.

“There’s nothing that I could say that would say ‘thank you’ enough for what he did for me,” McGough said at practice. “Now that I am able to come back here and show my respect to him and the team, it is the least I could do.”

McGough sat in on practices all week leading up to the team’s game against Rice University. He also got to hang out with Morgan, who wears McGough’s old no. 12 (but they’re cool).

“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 in October. 

Anthony Jones returns to football after near-death experience

On Sept. 6, senior running back Anthony Jones was being airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital.

He and freshman offensive lineman Mershawn Miller had just been seriously wounded in a drive-by shooting. While Miller was shot in the arm and would be released overnight, Jones was in critical condition; a bullet had passed through the back of his shoulder, grazed his neck and exited in the cheekbone area. There were no assurances that he would play football again.

Anthony Jones

Yet Jones did play again. He worked his way into playing shape once released from the hospital. Over the course of a few weeks, he graduated from light running to contact drills. In the week of practice leading up to the home game versus Florida Atlantic University, Jones showed the doctors enough to let him return to action.

On Nov. 3, Jones checked into the Shula Bowl to a loud round of applause at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

“I’m excited to be out there with my teammates,” Jones said after the game. “They are my brothers actually. They were at the hospital each and every day and I can’t ask for more. I’m just excited to be out here. That means the most to me right there—just running out of that tunnel with the guys.”

Jones would go on to play in FIU’s three remaining games. He finished the season with 251 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

Won’t be in the Bahamas on Friday? You can still watch FIU play Toledo at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 21 on ESPN. Here are three reasons you won’t want to miss it.

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