Panther head coach Mike MacIntyre, coaching in his first game at FIU, did not waste any time making the decision to go for the win.
"We didn't stop them two drives in a row and in overtime," MacIntyre said. "Coach (Dave) Yost said he had the perfect play, and we had not stopped them, so I said let's do it. Sure enough, he (Yost) did have the perfect play."
The decisive decision came following Bryant's first possession of overtime, which saw them score on a 25-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage from Zevi Eckhaus to Anthony Frederick.
The overtime victory capped a comeback from an early 16-0 deficit and represented the Panthers' largest comeback victory since rallying from 17-0 down at Old Dominion on Sept. 8, 2018.
The game featured a total of 53 points scored during the fourth quarter and overtime – a total of seven touchdowns and one field goal during the stretch.
James entered the game for the Panthers in the third quarter after starting signal caller Gunnar Holmberg left the game with an injury following a targeting call on Bryant. He directed each of the Panthers' final five scoring drives and finished the contest 16-of-31 for 207 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes - all in the second half.
On the receiving end for the Panthers was senior Tyrese Chambers, who snagged eight passes for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the overtime score that set up the opportunity for the winning two-point try.
Sophomore Kris Mitchell was also key in the Panthers' rally as he enjoyed a career-best day with a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, including one on a 46-yard connection with James as he tallied three catches for 80 yards.
Bryant opened the scoring on its initial possession on a two-yard touchdown run by Ishod Byarm that capped a 12-play, 59-yard drive, giving them an early 6-0 edge with 6:15 left in the opening quarter. FIU freshman Hezekiah Masses blocked the extra point attempt for the Panthers.
The Bulldogs added a 23-yard field goal by Ethan Gettman on their next possession to increase the margin to 9-0 at the 1:52 mark of the opening quarter.
Gage Moloney, who also saw some time under center for the Bulldogs, connected with Gage Maloney for a 21-yard TD pass with 2:07 before the break to move the score to 16-0.
FIU got on the board with just eight ticks left before halftime on a four-yard scoring toss from Holmberg, who found Lexington Joseph in the corner of the end zone, trimming the deficit to 16-6.
FIU junior linebacker Shaun Peterson Jr. got the momentum swinging the Panthers' way with a sack of Moloney, who fumbled as the Bulldogs were looking to extend their lead to three scores with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The turnover led to a 10-play, 69-yard march which resulted in a six-yard touchdown grab by Chambers, setting the tone for the ensuing fourth quarter rally.
- Thursday night's game marked the first for Mike MacIntyre as the head coach at FIU.
- MacIntyre made the successful decision to go for two with the Panthers trailing 37-36 in overtime.
- The win marked the largest come-from-behind win (16-0 deficit) for the Panthers since defeating Old Dominion 28-20 on Sept. 8, 2018, after trailing 17-0.
- FIU freshman Hezekiah Masses blocked an extra point following Bryant's touchdown on its opening possession.
- FIU starting quarterback Gunnar Holmberg left the game in the third quarter after a hit by Bryant's Chris Eaton Jr. in which he was flagged and ejected for targeting.
- Sophomore Jeramy Passmore and senior Davon Strickland were the lone Panthers to start in both this years and last year's season openers.
- Junior linebacker Shaun Peterson Jr., who was shifted from running back to linebacker during spring practice, recorded his first sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery with 19 seconds left in the third quarter.
- Senior wide receiver Tyrese Chambers snagged two touchdowns for the first time this season and has now recorded at least one TD in nine of 13 games at FIU.
- Sophomore wide receiver Kris Mitchell posted career-bests in receiving TDs (2) and yards (80).
- Sophomore quarterback Grayson James set career-bests in passing TDs (4), passing yards (207) and completions (16) – all of which came in the second half.
- FIU has won each of its last two season and home openers.
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