Florida International U

Water once again gets in the way at FIU

FIU stadium is pictured during lightning delay Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014.
FIU stadium is pictured during lightning delay Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014. David J. Neal

The Panthers experienced their third consecutive weather delay at home thanks to heavy rains, thunder and lightning just before Thursday night’s game, which pushed kickoff back 13 minutes to 7:18 p.m.

A 30-minute delay for lightning was also called at the beginning of halftime.

Then the endless wait to resume play really began.

Shula Bowl history

FIU was looking for its third victory in four years against FAU, and its second at home, to improve its all-time record against the Owls to 3-9.

The Panthers selected senior center Donald Senat, junior defensive end Michael Wakefield, sophomore linebacker De’Shawn Hazziez and senior safety Demarkus Perkins as their honorary captains for the Shula Bowl.

The Owls selected running back Tony Moore, linebacker Andrae Kirk, defensive back D’Joun Smith and tight end Alex Deleon as their honorary captains.

National leaders

Having recovered two fumbles in the first half, FIU took the lead nationally in the category with 12.

All three fumble recoveries in the first half came inside the 10-yard line.

The Panthers also forced one turnover in the first half and are now tied with Virginia as the national leaders in turnovers forced.

Staying cautious

FAU punted cautiously during the first half, kicking short and away from junior cornerback and punt returner Richard Leonard and then redshirt senior Glenn Coleman when the receiver stepped in to return punts.

Leonard averages 33.2 yards per kickoff return, good for seventh in the nation, and 19.2 yards per punt return, which puts him at 12th in the nation.

First for Gardner

Freshman running back Alex Gardner ran 24 yards for the first rushing touchdown of his career with 7:50 left in the first quarter.

Gardner led the team with 45 rushing yards at the half, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.

Second chance

FIU coach Ron Turner gave sophomore punter Chris Ayers another shot with 53 seconds left in the first half.

Ayers lost his starting job after the Sept.13 game against Pittsburgh to junior Jose Laphitzondo, who flubbed a 29-yard kick earlier in Thursday night’s game.

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