Florida International U

FIU Panthers have no answer for Rice’s Zach Patt

FIU quarterback Alex McGough can’t escape the grasp of linebacker Alex Lyons.
FIU quarterback Alex McGough can’t escape the grasp of linebacker Alex Lyons. Miami Herald Staff

Rice senior defensive end Zach Patt’s game paralleled the Owls’ overall Saturday — big start, strong finish — but with the added component of making some history.

Patt had a statistical career game in the truest sense. In his previous 38 college games, his sacks totaled only three, tackles for loss seven and he had forced three fumbles. On Saturday, Patt’s five sacks tied an FIU record for opponent sacks and was the second-most in Conference USA history. He also forced three fumbles, two of which FIU recovered.

And, in this case, two of three was bad for FIU.

The second fumble came with Rice ahead 31-17 early in the fourth quarter and the third, on Patt’s third sack, occurred late enough in the game to earn “garbage-time” designation, as did Patt’s last two sacks.

But the Panthers probably would trade the other two fumbles for that first one Patt forced, which sparked Rice’s 17-point first-quarter explosion. Instead, Patt recovered it himself, and on the next play a 19-yard Jowan Davis run gave Rice a 7-0 lead just 33 seconds into the game.

Patt’s five sacks and five tackles for loss tied the FIU opponent record set by Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith in a 14-6 Panthers loss in 2012.

“In the first quarter, we came out ready, on all cylinders,” Patt said. “Towards the second quarter, we flat-lined, and during halftime Coach [David Bailiff] talked about bringing the intensity back up to what it was in the first half.”

Television mixup

Miami is a known party town. The few FIU noon home games haven’t drawn well. So why would an FIU home game be scheduled for a noon kickoff the day after Halloween? The answer: American Sports Network, a group of stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting on which Saturday’s game was shown.

The problem was it wasn’t shown in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market. Despite telling the conference and the schools the game would be on WBFS Channel 33, ASN didn’t get that clearance. Therefore, the television reason for the noon start was of absolutely no benefit to the market with the largest group of FIU alumni. The official attendance was 12,097.

In good company

Glenn Coleman’s two catches for 101 yards and a touchdown put him at 20 for 435 yards and three TDs for the season. He is now averaging 21.8 yards per catch.

Since FIU moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, only twice have Panthers receivers caught at least 20 passes and averaged over 20 yards per catch: Willis Wright’s 25.3 yards per catch on 25 catches in 2012 and T.Y. Hilton’s 24.7 yards per catch on 41 catches in 2008.

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