FIU third-year starter at quarterback Alex McGough left Friday night’s 41-14 loss against Maryland late in the first quarter after taking a big hit on a play deep in FIU territory during which he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
McGough had started every game over the past two seasons. His 2,722 yards in 2015 was a single-season record for FIU quarterbacks.
McGough’s only other action was during FIU’s final drive of the first half. He completed a 4-yard pass, threw an incompletion, and handed the ball off for a three-and-out.
McGough’s back “was just tight, real tight the second half, so we stayed with Maurice [Alexander],” FIU coach Ron Turner said, referring to the redshirt freshman quarterback.
Alexander, who played in high school at Booker T. Washington, came into the game for McGough and completed 2 of 4 passes for 19 yards in the first half and 7 of 14 passes for 112 more yards and a touchdown in the second half. FIU running back Alex Gardner said the team was frustrated after losing a team leader, but Alexander “showed up big and took on the role.”
Alexander led Booker T. to a perfect 15-0 record and a state championship in 2014, his senior season. He threw for 3,060 yards and 32 touchdowns and ran for 466 yards and seven touchdowns.
Alexander carried the ball nine times for 30 yards, running back Anthony Jones rushed 14 times for 64 yards, and Gardner had 16 rushes for 109 yards.
Alexander entered the game having thrown only one college pass, a 5-yard completion to tight end Jonnu Smtih in the third quarter of the opening-week loss against Indiana.
Maryland scored first on a 23-yard field goal from Adam Greene after the FIU defense held the Terrapins when they had first-and-goal from the 5-yard line.
The Terrapins scored the next 14 points on the interception return and a Lorenzo Harrison 40-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter.
FIU struck next when Gardner’s 55-yard run set up his 4-yard score on the following play. After the game, Gardner said he thought Alexander’s mobility opened up the inside running game.
“The ends were staying, trying to play the quarterback, which helped us a lot,” he said.
Maryland scored the next 24 points before FIU drove from their own 8-yard line and capped off the drive with a 4-yard pass from Alexander to Austin Maloney.
“I was watching how they reacted when we fell behind by 17 early,” Turner said.
“As long as they have the heart, as long as they have the character, as long as they care about each other. All the other stuff, the mental mistakes, that’s fixable.
“We’re going to get this thing turned, and we’re going to have a good football team. There are a lot of games left.”