For the first time in nearly ninth months, FIU has won a football game.
Oddly, the last two wins for FIU (1-2) have come when standout quarterback James Morgan has been injured.
That was the case during FIU’s Bahamas Bowl win over Toledo this past December, when backup QB Christian Alexander starred. Alexander transferred to Wagner soon after that game, however.
On Saturday night, redshirt sophomore quarterback Kaylan Wiggins earned his first collegiate start and also his first win, helping the Panthers defeat visiting New Hampshire 30-17 in a game marred by a 44-minute lightning delay in the first quarter.
Here are four takeaways from FIU’s perspective:
▪ 1: Lamar Light: Wiggins, playing just his second collegiate game and looking like a younger version of NFL standout Lamar Jackson, ran 14 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He set the FIU single-game record for most yards rushing by a quarterback. He also is now tied for fifth in single-game-rushing among all FIU players, including running backs.
“The game was never bigger than him,” FIU coach Butch Davis said of Wiggins’ poise. “His legs gave him a lot of dangerous plays. If you want to stack the box against our running backs, he can put some danger on the defense.
“He also made some completions scrambling out of the pocket.”
Wiggins completed 12-of-18 passes for 127 yards. Thanks in large part to Wiggins, FIU was 6-of-13 on third-down conversions.
In last week’s loss to Western Kentucky, FIU was just 2-of-15 in that statistic, which was a sore spot for Davis.
▪ 2: Oh, Jose: FIU junior kicker Jose Borregales missed one extra point and two short field goals from 31 and 32 yards on Saturday. His only successful field goal was from 20 yards.
Borregales is just 1-for-4 on field goals this year, and all three of his misses have been in the 30-to-39-yard range.
Before Saturday, Borregales had made 94-of-95 extra-point tries at FIU. On field goals, prior to this season, he had been accurate on 29-of-36, which means that his success rate has dipped from 81 to 25 percent.
Davis said the issue with Borregales is the graduation of punter Stone Wilson, who had been his holder the past two years.
“Jose didn’t have his best night,” Davis said after his three-miss effort.
“You develop that relationship with the snapper and the holder, and you just trust them. You start your mechanics, and you attack the ball, and when the snap is a little bit out of place, you start worrying: Is the ball going to be on the spot where you want it?
“Then you start slowing down. Then you speed up. … We’ve just got to get more consistency. The snapper has to be right on point. That’s an area where we have to work.”
▪ 3: Lightning strikes once: “We had two halftimes” is how Davis looked at the weather disruption.
Davis said that the delay — which occurred with 38 seconds left in the first quarter and New Hampshire leading 9-7 — was actually beneficial to FIU.
“It gave us time to get our composure,” Davis said. “We talked about some changes and tweaks in our defense, which had allowed them some success. [But after the delay], we kind of shut down some of their runs.”
▪ 4: Back to the Bayou: Next up for FIU is Friday’s Conference USA game at Louisiana Tech (2-1). The last time these teams met, Louisiana Tech won 44-24 in the pre-Davis era of 2016.
FIU is 0-1 in Louisiana this year, losing its opener at Tulane, 42-14