FIU came into Saturday’s game last in the Sun Belt in sacks, rarely getting even hurries this season.
The only sack allowed by Middle Tennessee State in its first five games wasn’t even of a quarterback, but a wide receiver called for intentional grounding (a sack by college statistics rules).
So, of course, FIU got two sacks on one second-quarter drive and nearly chased Red Raider quarterback Logan Kilgore into Tamiami Park during the first half.
Sack No. 1 came on a blitz by junior cornerback Sam Miller; it was an 11-yard loss.
After Middle Tennessee’s Benny Cunningham broke off a 32-yard carry on third-and-24 from the Red Raiders’ 6, senior defensive end Tourek Williams took down Kilgore for another 11-yard loss.
Williams got another sack in the third quarter, in three quarters doubling his season total so far.
That drive also included a sack by Williams and freshman Fadol Brown.
FIU’s three sacks matched its season total.
With so many former high school quarterbacks playing wide receiver for FIU, the first quarter end around pass was inevitable.
Senior Wayne Times took the handoff toward the right side, then threw deep for Jacob Younger.
Alas, not only did Middle have Younger surrounded but also Times pass overthrew the trio.
Big on 4th down
Middle Tennessee came into the game leading the nation in fourth down success, going 6 of 6.
They converted another fourth down, a fourth-and-1, with an 11-yard run by senior running back Benny Cunningham.
The next series of downs saw Middle Tennessee go for it on fourth-and-11 from the FIU 25.
Quarterback Logan Kilgore’s pass down the middle for fifth-year senior Vincent Van Horne got broken up when Horne nearly got broken up by FIU senior safeties Johnathan Cyprien and Chuck Grace.
The problem most of the night for FIU turned out to be third-down defense.
While Middle went only six of 14, they did convert a third-and-24 from their own 6 with a 32-yard Cunningham run; a third-and-22 with a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Anthony Amos, who had eight catches for 148 yards and a touchdown on the way to Cunningham’s 24-yard touchdown that gave Middle Tennessee its first lead of the game, 27-23; and got 14 yards on a third-and-15 play before Cunningham converted the aforementioned fourth down.
The return of redshirt sophomore quarterback Jake Medlock allowed him to resume his streak of consecutive passes without an interception.
Medlock’s now at 157, second in FIU history behind Josh Patrick’s 172 in 2005.
Medlock came into this week one of five FBS starting quarterback without an interception.
Senior kicker Jack Griffin had hit 97 consecutive extra points before missing the one after FIU’s first touchdown, a 25-yard pass to Glenn Coleman.
Griffin rebounded to hit a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend FIU’s lead to 23-17.
But he had a 52-yard field-goal attempt partially blocked later in the quarter.