TROY, Ala. -- FIU opened the game carving chunks out of the Troy defense. They scored on a 33-yard play-action bomb up the middle to a wide open Glenn Coleman and later, had a one-play 49-yard bomb to Willis Wright also off play-action.
Coleman’s touchdown followed a 26-yard run by junior running back Kedrick Rhodes.
“Their safeties were aggressive,” FIU coach Mario Cristobal said. “They were playing a particular type of coverage where those guys were really involved in the run game. Then, as we hit those, the running game began to open up. We were doing a good job of staying ahead of schedule, trying to see what they were giving us.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jake Medlock was 11 of 17 for 184 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. In the second half, Medlock was seven of 12 for 132 yards and a touchdown to senior wide receiver Wayne Times.
But he also threw his first interception of the season, Brannon Bryan picking off a sideline pass thrown for Rhodes after Rhodes already was out of bounds. That led to the Troy touchdown that closed the gap to 24-21 in the third quarter. It also ended Medlock’s streak of consecutive passes without an interception at 203 for his career and 174 this season, both FIU records. The latter edged Josh Paddock’s 2005 streak of 172.
Griffin on top
Senior kicker Jack Griffin’s second extra point pushed him past the previous FIU career record of 233 set by Adam Moss in the program’s first four seasons, 2002-05. Griffin ended the day with 239 points.
Griffin hit his only field-goal attempt Saturday, but is still six of 10 on field-goal attempts this season, and is seven of nine on extra points the last two weeks after hitting 97 in a row.
Less common than Griffin hitting an extra point was FIU senior running back Darian Mallary fumbling. Mallary, a Gulliver Prep graduate, said the last time he recalled fumbling was “the semifinal in the state playoffs, my senior year.”
Mallary’s first-quarter touchdown gave him touchdowns in each of the seven games he’s played this year. (He missed the Louisiana-Lafayette game with a concussion.)
A lower back bruise kept senior wide receiver Jacob Younger out Saturday. Instead, FIU started Wright and Coleman, with tight end Akil Dan-Fodio lined up as a slot receiver. ... Wright reached career highs with six catches and 129 receiving yards. With his 109-yard receiving game last week, it was the first back-to-back 100-yard receiving games for FIU since T.Y. Hilton did it against Duke and Akron last year.
Sophomore Richard Leonard’s 68-yard kickoff return, which set up FIU’s second score, highlighted a day of 146 yards on four kickoff returns. That boosted his average from 25.4 yards per return to 28.3.
The Panthers went into last week with three sacks in their first six games. They’ve picked up seven in the last two weeks, against Middle Tennessee and Troy. Saturday, freshman Fadol Brown, sophomore defensive end Giovani Francois, and senior linebackers Winston Fraser and Jordan Hunt got sacks.
Also, safety Johnathan Cyprien got FIU’s first interception in four games after cornerback Sam Miller blasted Troy quarterback Deon Anthony on a blitz.