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Unlikely defensive heroes spark FIU win over Middle Tennessee State

FIU cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon attempts to bring down Middle Tennessee State University running back Jeremiah Bryson during their game at FIU Stadium in Miami on Nov. 15, 2014.
FIU cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon attempts to bring down Middle Tennessee State University running back Jeremiah Bryson during their game at FIU Stadium in Miami on Nov. 15, 2014. FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

Anybody who watched FIU football this season – or watches football at all – would consider Saturday’s wacky comeback 38-28 win over Middle Tennessee State the epitome of “unlikely.”

Appropriately, a pair of unlikely defensive heroes, junior linebacker Davison Colimon and junior cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon, helped the cause with career days.

Each picked off his first career interception, Colimon taking his back 79 yards for a touchdown that climaxed FIU’s 28-0 run from 21-3 down to 31-21 ahead. Colimon also had two sacks. McKinnon made the end zone fumble recovery with Middle ahead 21-10 and forced the fumble that preceded FIU’s go-ahead, third-quarter touchdown.

About the only complaint FIU coach Ron Turner had with either one Saturday concerned Colimon celebrating by signaling “No. 1” with his right hand at about the 10-yard line on his interception return. That brought a light scolding from Turner, worried that the pursuit would catch Colimon from behind.

“It’s good to see him rewarded,” FIU coach Ron Turner said of Colimon. “Last season, he was in the doghouse about as deep as you could be. I didn’t know that he could ever get out of it. If you had told me he was going to be named a captain for three of our 11 games, I would’ve bet 100-1 odds it was not going to happen. He’s completely turned it around and played some great football for us. I’m just happy for him.”

Turner’s never specified why he suspended Colimon for a few games last season other than to say a couple of months ago “zero accountability.” McKinnon also got suspended from the program for a few weeks in 2013. His self-discipline repeatedly has been called into question by Turner.

McKinnon started the first eight games, then got benched during the loss to Rice. He didn’t start against Old Dominion, but had such a frustrating day, he needed to be calmed on the field by cousin redshirt junior cornerback Richard Leonard after a pass interference call.

“It was nice for him to have a little success and get a little confidence back. He didn’t start the game,” Turner said. “He and (senior Randy Harvey) competed all week. Harvey actually had a better week of practice. Harvey started. We’ll get Jeremiah in at some point and we’ll see who we want to keep in there. (McKinnon) stepped in and did a good job as well.

“Nothing like competition, huh?”

▪ FIU finished the season with a home average official attendance of 11,830. The NCAA minimum for the FBS level is 15,000 per game. That’ll earn FIU at least a warning letter from the NCAA, which it received after falling short in 2012. If FIU falls beneath the minimum for a second consecutive year, at least a fine will be incurred.

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