When FIU senior defensive end Tourek Williams popped the ball out while sacking Blake Bortles on the last play of the third quarter, it was UCF’s first fumble of the season.
It also created a flashback moment. The ball bounced back up evenly to Bortles, who covered it as Williams covered him. A bounce either way and the ball would have been sitting on the ground for junior defensive tackle Isame Faciane with only 38 yards of air separating him from the end zone.
FIU was down 30-14 and a touchdown would have put FIU within at least 10 points with a quarter to play.
Last year against UCF, Faciane scooped up a fumble on a similar play and ran 51 yards for the touchdown that turned the game around.
Senior safety Johnathan Cyprien was in on 12 tackles, giving him 304 for his career, breaking the school record of 302 set by linebacker Scott Bryant from 2006 to 2009.
Cyprien’s five solo tackles in the game gave him 175, extending his FIU career record in that category.
Mallary in again
For the second week in a row, senior Darian Mallary took over the running back duties after junior starter Kedrick Rhodes was injured.
Rhodes limped off in the third quarter favoring his right foot and had a large ice pack on it after the game.
One spot on FIU’s schedule remains for next season. A road game would be preferred because the Panthers got seven home games in 2014.
UCF and Bethune-Cookman are next year’s nonconference home games.
FIU will play Louisville, next week’s opponent at FIU Stadium, on the road in 2013.
This and that
• FIU’s second play became redshirt freshman running back Shane Coleman’s first collegiate carry. Alas, the attempt to take advantage of Coleman’s speed by sweeping to the wide side of the field got FIU only a yard.
Coleman ended the day with two carries for 7 yards.
• UCF freshman Breshad Perriman, son of former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman (University of Miami, Miami Northwestern High), got his first college start and had no receptions.
• Running back Storm Johnson, a transfer from the University of Miami, ran for 78 yards on 18 carries and caught one pass for no gain.
• Sophomore Richard Leonard’s troubles continued with cleanly fielding punts and kicks.
He muffed the first UCF kickoff, giving him two punt-return fumbles and two kickoff-return muffs in three games.
Leonard recovered this muff on the run, but junior Sam Miller replaced him on punts later in the game.
• Senior cornerback Jose Cheeseborough jumped a route in the second quarter for an interception, extending FIU’s streak of games with an interception to 11.
• Scouts at the game came not only from the NFL (Detroit and New England), but from the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
• For the second week in a row, senior Jack Griffin handled the placekicking, kickoff and punting duties. Last week, FIU coach Mario Cristobal said he wasn’t happy with punter Josh Brisk’s punting at Duke. This week, Brisk walked out of the locker room with a stiff gait usually associated with a groin problem.