Sports

Takeaways from FIU’s dominating victory over Massachusetts on Saturday night

The Massachusetts Minutemen were aptly named on Saturday night because that’s about the amount of fight they had for the FIU Panthers.

For about a minute.

The Panthers beat visiting U-Mass 44-0, giving FIU its first shutout since 2002. FIU led 17-0 in the first quarter and 34-0 at halftime, cruising from there.

FIU set a school record with just 115 yards allowed, including 38 on the ground in 24 attempts. Tony Gaiter caught seven passes for 115 yards — both career highs — and the Panthers improved to 2-3.

Here are four takeaways regarding FIU football:

1: Perspective, please: Beating the Minutemen was not a great accomplishment. They are an FCS team with a 1-5 record.

FIU has yet to win a Conference USA game this season, sitting in last place (0-2). FIU has also yet to win a game against anybody other than FCS teams. Its other win was a 27-17 victory over New Hampshire.

Saturday was actually a bad day for FIU in the standings as C-USA East Division leader Western Kentucky improved to 3-0 with a 20-3 victory over Old Dominion. WKU leads FIU by 2½ games and also has the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.

Next up for FIU is Saturday’s home game against league rival Charlotte (2-3, 0-1)

2: Alexander the Great: Maurice Alexander scored on a 90-yard punt return that he scooped up after a couple of bounces. Only NFL star T.Y. Hilton — who had a 97-yarder — has had a longer punt return in FIU history.

FIU coach Butch Davis said he gives Alexander the freedom to make decisions on bouncing punts that he might not give to other returners.

“He’s super smart,” Davis said of Alexander, who became a returner for the first time in his life last year and now has two career touchdowns on punts. “He knows when to fake a fair catch and let the ball go into the end zone. When he sees he’s going to get some protection to get the first five to 15 yards … once he starts running, he’s tough to tackle.”

3: ‘Bo’ knows how to fix it: Junior kicker Jose Borregales, who had been reliable his first two years, had struggled this season. But he went 3-for-3 on field goals on Saturday, including a 45-yarder, and 5-for-5 on extra points.

“It was great getting Jose back on track,” Davis said. “The past two weeks, he has really focused on his mechanics. We told him, ‘Tiger Woods, every now and then, used to hit it in the water.’

“’Let it go. Put it out of your mind. Go on to your next kick.’ ”

4: Padding the stats: Quarterback James Morgan, who has missed six quarters this season because of a leg injury, won his first game of the year. He completed 19-of-31 passes for 263 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and just one sack.

Anthony Jones ran 20 times for 115 yards and one touchdown. It was the first 100-yard game by an FIU running back this season. It was also Jones’ first 100-yard game since 2016, when he did it twice, including a career-best total of 128 at Texas-El Paso.

Senior middle linebacker Sage Lewis, the preseason C-USA Defensive Player of the Year, intercepted his second pass of the season. Lewis set the FIU single-season tackles record last year, and he’s enhancing his NFL stock by showing his coverage skills.

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