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FIU’s flawless second half leads to big win over Marshall

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Saturday’s game between the Florida International Panthers and the Marshall Thundering Herd started off as a turnover fest, but it did not end that way. The Panthers used a highly proficient offense in the second half to pull away from Marshall and roll to a 31-14 victory in Miami.

After taking the opening kickoff and marching 82 yards in four plays to take a 7-0 lead, quarterback Maurice Alexander threw interceptions in back-to-back possessions. Alexander was playing in place of the injured Alex McGough.

Marshall quarterback Chase Litton also threw two first half interceptions sandwiched around a 17-yard touchdown pass to Emanuel Byrd that tied the score at 7-7. Late in the first half, Christian Alexander came in at quarterback for FIU and led them on an 82-yard scoring drive, capped by a three-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Branisel.

The Panthers would score on every possession for the remainder of the game. Focusing on the running game, FIU’s three second half possessions resulted in a field goal and two touchdowns while the defense allowed just one touchdown.

Both Anthony Jones and Alex Gardner rushed for more than 100 yards. Jones had 121 yards and a touchdown while Gardner had 119 yards and two touchdowns. Maurice Alexander, who returned in the third quarter, finished with 204 yards and two touchdowns.

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak. The Panthers improved to 4-7 overall and 4-3 and Conference USA.

Saturday’s win capped an exciting week for FIU. Earlier they hired former Miami Hurricanes Coach Butch Davis to be their new head coach. He will replace Ron Turner, who was fired on September 25 after an 0-4 start.

Interim Coach Ron Cooper improved to 4-3 since he took over. He will coach his final game for FIU next Saturday when they finish the season on the road at Old Dominion.


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

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