FIU notebook

Quarterback frenzy for FIU Panthers

 

dneal@miamiherald.com

Before the game, the three quarterbacks warming up for FIU were true freshman E.J. Hilliard, redshirt freshman Lorenzo Hammonds and true freshman Favian Upshaw.

Unlike Hilliard’s half against Louisville or his starts against Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State, he got yanked for only one play Saturday.

Hammonds came in on second-and-6 from the Monroe 6-yard line and ran for 2 yards.

On the next play, Hilliard slung a hitch to Wayne Times that produced a touchdown, only to be called back on a holding call on Willis Wright.

Next season, the FIU quarterback battle could be between Jake Medlock, Hilliard and freshman Brett Sheehan, a verbal commit from Collins Hill (Ga.). Sheehan ended his high school career last week with a 27-of-49, 349-yard, five-touchdown performance in a playoff loss.

Rely on Rhodes

Junior running back Kedrick Rhodes spent the season battling a pair of sprained ankles. Still, he finished with a team-high 167 carries for the season, the fourth-most in FIU history. Rhodes’ 441 career carries surpassed the school record of 435, set by Darriet Perry from 2008 to 2011.

Rhodes also led the Panthers in rushing with 714 yards, leaving him with 2,156 career yards, just 39 short of Rashod Smith’s school record, set in the program’s first three years (2002-04)

Strong ending

Senior wide receiver Times ended his career by catching passes in 29 consecutive games, third-most in FIU history.

Times caught a career-high 11 passes for 63 yards Saturday. He dropped a potential touchdown when a desperate flail by a Monroe defensive back distracted Times enough to create a drop with nobody between he and the end zone.

Stingy defense

In each of FIU’s past two games, it allowed the two lowest rushing totals in school history.

The Panthers squashed FAU to minus-12 rushing yards last week.

On Saturday, helped by four sacks of Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning and a Warhawks offense that emphasized the pass, FIU limited ULM to 9 yards on 27 carries. Both were well under the previous record, which was 28 yards allowed against Florida A&M in 2005.

Sack time

FIU had only three sacks in the first six games but had 20 sacks in the next six games.

Senior defensive end Tourek Williams ended the season with a team-high 6 1/2 sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

Sophomore Giovani Francois was second in sacks with 4 1/2, and junior Greg Hickman was second in tackles for loss with nine.

Senior safety Johnathan Cyprien ended the season as the leading tackler with 93 and a career FIU record of 363.

David j. neal

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