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FIU picks up second straight win, beats UTEP 35-21

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Ron Cooper has a perfect record as Head Coach of the Florida International Panthers. Saturday’s 35-21 win over the Texas-El Paso Miners in west Texas gave Cooper his second win since becoming the interim coach.

Saturday’s win followed last week’s 33-31 squeaker over Florida Atlantic. Cooper took over when Ron Turner was fired on September 25.

The Panthers dominated the game, piling up 500 yards of total offense, while the Miners could manage only 330. FIU ran the ball better than they have all season with Alex Gardner gaining 141 yards and Anthony Jones 128.

Alex McGough had one of his best nights, completing 21 of 31 passes and three touchdowns. Thomas Owens had seven catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

After taking a 13-7 lead at halftime, FIU took the second half kickoff and marched 75 yards in 12 plays capped by an eight-yard toss from McGough to Owens.

After UTEP cut the margin to 20-14, McGough and Owens hooked up again, this one for 23 yards, to stretch margin to 28-14 after the two-point conversion. Gardner’s nine-yard TD run on the third play of the fourth quarter, gave the Panthers a three touchdown lead.

UTEP was able to cut the margin to 14, but could get no closer.

With the victory, FIU moves to 2-4 on the season, but 2-0 in Conference USA. They are tied for first place in the Eastern Division of the conference with Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion.

The Miners, who were favored, fell to 1-5 and 0-3 in the conference.

Florida International goes for their third straight win next Saturday in Charlotte against the 49ers.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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