Florida International U

FIU, Pittsburgh combine for three safeties

Hard-nosed runner: Pitt running back James Conner gained 177 yards on 31 carries against FIU.
Hard-nosed runner: Pitt running back James Conner gained 177 yards on 31 carries against FIU. For the Miami Herald

Football’s least common score became more common than a cold Saturday at FIU Stadium. And it happened three times between two teams for whom “safety” usually means “Johnathan Cyprien” or “Bob Jury.”

Junior cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon’s sack of Pittsburgh quarterback Chad Voytik was the first FIU safety since a 2008 game against Troy. It was also the first safety against Pitt since 2007, an intentional safety taken at the end of the Backyard Brawl game with West Virginia.

Then, when FIU punter Chris Ayers booted a dropped snap out of the end zone, it was the first Pitt safety since 2006 when The Citadel snapped the ball out of the end zone on a punt.

Asked if he had ever been involved in a game with three safeties, FIU coach Ron Turner said: “No and never been in one where two of the free kicks went out of bounds.”


FIU switched quarterbacks during the game. So did Pitt, with Trey Anderson spelling Voytik for a possession.

FIU planned on a two-quarterback game. The Panthers didn’t plan on a two-punter game.

But after Ayers’ 9-yard punt in the third quarter, FIU switched to Jose Laphitzondo, an Argentine member of the FIU Rugby Club who hadn’t played in a football game before.

Laphitzondo’s lone punt went 40 yards against the wind. But his free kick after the day’s third safety went out of bounds.


You know a team’s young when every week features a few college career firsts.

This week, FIU redshirt freshman linebacker Jordan Guest got his first fumble recovery when Pitt sophomore running back John Conner dropped a handoff and Guest beat Conner to the grass.

FIU sophomore cornerback Wilkenson Myrtil got his first interception, jumping a short route as Pitt tried to get into field-goal range with 11 seconds left in the first half. That gave FIU the ball on its own 42 with time for one play. FIU went for the kneel down, which disappointed some fans.

Turner explained with FIU going into the wind, he didn’t want to take a chance on the throw not making it to the end zone and Pitt returning it a long way.

On the downside, freshman quarterback Alex McGough suffered his first turnover when he was sacked by Nicholas Grigsby. Anthony Gonzalez recovered for Pitt. McGough still hasn’t thrown an interception.


Conner has gained 544 yards in his first three games this season, breaking a Pitt record set in 1973 by freshman and future Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett.