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Florida International gets first win of the season over Florida Atlantic

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The Florida International Golden Panthers finally walked off the field as winners. After a back and forth struggle on Saturday night at Ocean Bank Field, FIU came away with a 33-31 victory over the Florida Atlantic Owls.

It was the Conference USA opener for both teams, which was a welcome sight after suffering some big losses during the non-conference portion of their schedules. Both teams had their chances to win.

There were five lead changes throughout the game, along with a bevy of big plays. The first came on just the second snap of the game when the Owls’ Gregory Howell had a 68-yard touchdown burst.

FIU quarterback Alex McGough gave his team the lead at 14-7 with a 35-yard scramble for a touchdown. The Owls picked off McGough and turned it into a touchdown just 18 seconds into the second half to go up 24-14. It was the fourth “pick-six” against McGough this season.

There were five lead changes in the game. The final change came with 12:14 remaining when Austin Taylor kicked what turned out to be a game-winning 32-yard field goal.

Both teams ran the ball well. The Owls had 236 yards rushing, while FIU gained 270 yards on the ground. Howell finished with 101 yards for FAU while Alex Gardner had 119 yards for the Panthers.

Florida International is now 1-4 on the season while Florida Atlantic slipped to 1-4. FAU hosts Charlotte next week with FIU travels to Texas/El Paso.

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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