The Rice Owls beat the FIU Panthers on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Miami, 31-17. While the game was played in front of what looked like a few hundred spectators, the two teams combined for over 650 total yards and 48 points in a heated battle in the Sunshine State.
After stalling out on the opening drive, FIU fumbled on a 3rd and 10 to give Rice the ball in the red zone. On the next play, Owl running back Jowan Davis bounced off a few tackles to stumble in for a 19-yard touchdown run.
Following a quick drive that led to a 40-yard field goal, Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson found Jordan Taylor for a 63-yard touchdown, proving that the senior pass-catcher is finally healthy.
With the game seeming to pull out of reach for the Panthers, FIU promptly started their comeback. Panther quarterback Alex McGough found Glenn Coleman for an incredible juggling 52-yard touchdown pass for their first score and six minutes later, Neopoleon Maxwell rushed in for an 11-yard touchdown and his first points of the season.
Two plays following FIU's resurgence, Driphus Jackson connected with James Mayden on a floater over the middle for a 69-yard touchdown pass to put the Owls up 24-14. The Panthers would answer with a field goal to enter the half down 24-17.
A hard hit in the middle of the third quarter nearly knocked Driphus Jackson out of the game for the Owls, but he returned shortly after to continue a 230 yard, 2 touchdown performance for the junior quarterback. A few failed attempts at fourth-down conversions for both sides - and a missed 42-yard Rice field goal - led to a fairly slow third quarter.
Coming out of the "Wildcat" formation, Luke Turner turned the corner on a 1-yard touchdown run for the Owls to finally put the game away for Rice, 31-17. Jowan Davis finished with 55 rushing yards and one touchdown for the Owls. Rice receiver Jordan Taylor caught six passes for 115 yards and one touchdown, while Glenn Coleman tallied over 100 yards receiving for the Panthers. The Owls move to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the conference - good enough for second place in the C-USA West division. FIU stumbles to 3-6 and 2-3 in conference play. The Panthers will have to win their final three games to achieve bowl eligibility.