FIU got a glimpse of its future … and it was good.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Kaylan Wiggins, filling in for injured starter James Morgan, led the host Panthers to a 30-17 win over New Hampshire on Saturday night.
Wiggins set a school single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback, running 14 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 12-of-18 passes for 127 yards and no turnovers.
Wiggins, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Sanford Seminole, looked at times like a young version of NFL standout Lamar Jackson, especially during a 70-yard run.
Morgan, a graduate transfer/senior, is expected to start once he is healthy, perhaps as soon as Friday night’s road game at Louisiana Tech.
But Wiggins certainly showed he is a capable quarterback whenever needed this year and perhaps as next season’s starter, although he will surely have competition for the job.
FIU (1-2), off to the worst start in the three-year era of coach Butch Davis, earned a badly needed win, getting help from a fortuitous bounce. During a punt return, FIU’s Tony Gaiter was hit, and he fumbled. But FIU junior linebacker Dimitry Prophete was trailing the play when the ball went right into his arms.
Gaiter was credited with a 34-yard return, and Prophete ran the final 10 yards for the touchdown that put FIU up 27-17 with 8:36 left in the fourth quarter.
It was a crushing blow for New Hampshire (0-2), an FCS program looking for the upset.
FIU overcame two obstacles to earn the win –Jose Borregales’ erratic kicking and a 44-minute lightning delay in the first quarter.
Borregales, a redshirt junior, is struggling. As a freshman, he was 15-of-18 on field goals and 40-for-40 on extra points. As a sophomore, he made 14-of-18 on field goals and 54-of-55 on extra points.
This year, he is 1-for-4 on field goals. All three of his misses are from 30-39 yards, including two errant kicks on Saturday (31 and 32). He made a 20-yarder with 1:44 left against New Hampshire.
But he also missed an extra point on Saturday, just the second errant PAT try of his collegiate career.
After a Borregales miss spoiled FIU’s first drive, New Hampshire took a 3-0 lead on its first drive, which produced Jason Hughes’ 41-yard field goal.
Wiggins, however, engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive to give FIU a 7-3 lead. He had two big runs on the drive totaling 49 yards, and he added a 17-yard pass to Gaiter before Napoleon Maxwell ran it in from the one-yard line.
New Hampshire came right back with a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The Wildcats converted on three third downs on that drive, including twice on third-and-nine passes.
FIU went back on top 13-10 to start the second-quarter scoring. Wiggins got all 72 yards on the possession – a 70-yard run and and a two-yard score. On the only other play, Anthony Jones was stuffed for no gain. Borregales continued to struggle with his missed extra point.
Things started to look bleak for FIU when New Hampshire took a 17-13 lead on an 86-yard pass play from Max Brosmer to Dylan Laube in the third quarter.
But Wiggins scored on a four-yard run with 6:57 left in the third quarter, and the Panthers never trailed again.