In many ways, it was the type of day that has become typical for Western Kentucky. Despite getting sacked five times, Mike White was 30 of 49 for 355 yards through the air with two touchdowns. The Tops’ rushing offense netted just 46 yards.
What was atypical for WKU were the three lost fumbles and the two missed field goals by Ryan Nuss.
Nuss’s first miss came on WKU’s first possession of the game from 33 yards away. FIU then took the ball and got an early 3-0 lead with a Jose Borregales 22-yard kick after a long 75-yard drive. Nuss got his one make of the day on the following possession from 38 yards away to tie it up and that would wrap up the scoring for the first quarter.
On their first drive of the second quarter, Mike White hit Lucky Jackson on a 28-yard pass play for a touchdown. FIU immediately answered with a ten play, 77-yard drive that ended with Shawndarrius Phillips running it in from four yards away. Phillips finished the day with 17 carries for 69 yards and two touchdowns. FIU would add another short field goal from before the end of the half to lead 13-10.
WKU would get their final points of the game on their first possession of the second half. It almost never came to be as an interception by FIU’s Emmanuel Lubin got called back due to a personal foul on the Panthers. Mike White and Nacarius Fant connected for a 14-yard touchdown on the next play.
FIU would go on to score on three of their final five possessions and add a touchdown that came when D’Vonte Price scooped up a fumble on a WKU fake punt.
Following their passing touchdown, WKU’s possessions ended in three lost fumbles, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs, and the game ending.
For the Panthers, quarterback Alex McGough threw for 227 yards with 17 completions on 26 attempts. Punter/holder Stone WIlson also threw a touchdown on a fake field goal.
The Panthers had the ball for just 50 seconds longer than WKU, but were outgained 401 to 373 in total yards on the day. The FIU defense being opportunistic when WKU made mistakes and the Panther backfield nearly tripling WKU’s rushing production (122 to 46) both played a huge factor in this win.
Western Kentucky end their regular season at 6-6 overall (4-4 in C-USA) to finish fourth in the C-USA East division. Mike Sanford’s squad now await their bowl fate.
FIU improve to 7-4 overall (5-3 in C-USA) with a game against UMASS on December 2nd still remaining on the schedule. That game was rescheduled from earlier in the year.