Florida International U

Alex McGough TD pass to Jonnu Smith with 1:05 left lifts FIU over Charlotte

FIU quarterback Alex McGough makes a move with the football during Saturday night’s victory in Charlotte.
FIU quarterback Alex McGough makes a move with the football during Saturday night’s victory in Charlotte. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte 49ers were close Saturday to another first for the 4-year-old football program.

Instead, FIU ended Charlotte’s chance at its first back-to-back Conference USA wins, edging the 49ers 27-26 at Richardson Stadium on Saturday night.

Alex McGough threw for 315 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers (3-4, 3-0), including a 9-yard scoring pass to Jonnu Smith with 1 minute 5 seconds remaining to tie the score at 26-26.

FIU kicker Austin Taylor then made the extra point to put the Panthers up by one. Taylor also hit two field goals for the Panthers, from 21 and 23 yards out.

Charlotte (2-5, 1-2) had a shot at winning, with Hasaan Klugh driving the 49ers into deep field-goal range with 10 seconds remaining. Senior Blake Brewer, who has not attempted a field goal this season, missed short on a 49-yard attempt.

Klugh finished with 171 passing yards and one touchdown — a 12-yarder to Workpeh Kofa in the second quarter — as well as 95 rushing yards and a score, a 12-yard run in the third quarter.

Kalif Phillips added 99 rushing yards on 24 carries, freshman Robert Washington had a 3-yard TD run, and Stephen Muscarello hit field goals of 29 and 32 yards for the 49ers, who led 26-13 with 7:12 remaining.

McGough engineered FIU’s comeback with his two TD passes, the first a 15-yarder to A.J. Branisel with 4:21 remaining, the second to Smith to put the Panthers ahead for the first time since midway through the second quarter.

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