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Monday, March 4, 2024

Panthers’ Offense Makes Statement As FIU Thrashes UTEP 52-12

FIU Tight End Jonnu Smith gets a TD versus UTEP 2015
FIU Tight End Jonnu Smith gets a TD versus UTEP October 10, 2015 at FIU Stadium (Image credit: FIU Athletics)

University Park, FL – FIU got its most decisive win of the 2015 football season so far, whipping the UTEP Miners at FIU Stadium 52-12. The Panthers had a breakthrough performance against the Miners, setting a school first-half record of 42 points and gaining a total of 518 total yards by the end of the game. This comes one week after the anemic performance during the loss at UMass in which the Panthers were held to only 188 total yards.

FIU Sophomore Quarterback Alex McGough and Sophomore Running Back Alex Gardner shined in an offense that scored in nearly every possession during the first half. McGough went 13 of 17 for a career-high 270 passing yards and 2 touchdowns: one touchdown to Sophomore Wide Receiver Thomas Owens for a 43-yard touchdown, and another to Junior Tight-End Jonnu Smith for 14 yards.

During a post-game press conference, McGough credited the receivers for being able to make plays, “I felt comfortable out there… It just came to me.. Everybody’s making plays: Slim, Shawn Abrams, TO (Thomas Ownens), Gardner.. I can name every single player on the offense. It’s easy for me when they’re doing that, I just gotta get them the ball.”

FIU RB Alex Gardner press conference UTEP 2015
FIU RB Alex Gardner on if this was a statement win: “Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We got to come next week with the same intensity so that we can get another W.” Photo Credit: Josh Mayorga, Sweetwater Post

Gardner led the offense in rushing and receiving yards, with 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown, and 5 receptions for 96 yards. Running backs Anthon Samuel and Anthony Jones each scored a rushing TD, for 18 yards and 26 yards, respectively. When asked if this was a statement win for the Panthers, Gardner said, “Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We got to come next week with the same intensity so that we can get another W. ”

The defense scored a touchdown during the first half after Miami-native and Senior Cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon intercepted a pass by UTEP QB Ryan Metz and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown.

On special teams, Junior Kicker Austin Taylor added a 38-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

FIU’s success on the field allowed for more playing time for Senior Quarterback Trey Anderson, which hooked up with Redshirt Sophomore WR Shug Oyegunle for a 79-yard strike that led to a touchdown.

fiu head coach ron turner 2015 utep
FIU Head Coach Ron Turner during a post-game press conference after FIU win vs. UTEP, 10/10/2015. Photo credit: Josh Mayorga, Sweetwater Post

Coach Turner: “We Practiced Every Day With Chip On Our Shoulder”

This win was fueled by much-needed motivation and extensive practice after two straight losses on the road by the Panthers. FIU Head Coach Ron Turner commented on the game, “I’m proud of these guys, truly a great team win. We practiced every day with a chip on our shoulder… it
showed today we came out with tremendous focus. The players in did a great job pushing and leading one another, great team win. ”

Coming off of a confidence-boosting win, Coach Turner mentioned the need to focus on fundamentals.

Coach Ron Turner took over as Football Head Coach in 2013. In his third season as Head Coach, FIU is in a similar spot as this time last year, when FIU was 3-3 after a 38-10 win against Florida Atlantic. FIU is 8-22 overall under Coach Turner.

The FIU Football team seems to be steadily improving offensively and defensively.

jephete matilus fiu linebacker 2015
FIU Linebacker Jephete Matilus, “I think like the other guys and like myself we just play with a chip on our shoulders. We want people to believe we’re the underdogs. We want people to understand we’re going to fight until the end and give it all we got. ” Photo credit: Josh Mayorga, Sweetwater Post

Next Game

The FIU Panthers (3-3, 1-1 conf.) will play at Middle Tennessee State University (2-4, 1-1 conf.) on October 17, 2015. MTSU is coming off a 37-10 loss at #2 Alabama and with the Blue Raiders’ offense producing 441 average total yards per game, MTSU will present a challenge to the FIU Defense led by the talented Senior Linebacker Jephete Matilus.

Expect the FIU offense to have another explosive performance against MTSU.

Game Stats

Total Yards – FIU: 518, UTEP: 267
Passing Yards – FIU:368, UTEP: 117
Rushing Yards – FIU: 150, UTEP: 150
First Downs – FIU: 22, UTEP, 13
Time of Possession – FIU: 24:33, UTEP: 35:27
Turnovers – FIU: 0, UTEP: 1
Penalties – FIU: 5-38, UTEP: 3-20

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