If last week served as an opportunity for the Panthers to end their almost two-year-long losing skid, Saturday’s 23-17 loss over Texas State (1-1, 0-0) provided evidence that FIU (1-1, 0-0) still has a ways to go in order to play a full was nothing more than a confluence of unprecedented circumstances.
“There’s a lot of things we did tonight that won’t help you win any games,” said Butch Davis. “Turning the ball over as often as we did and especially in the redzone and having explosive plays called back because of penalties, we had our opportunities but we didn’t take advantage and we have to improve for next week.”
Texas State jumped out to an early lead following a touchdown on their opening drive when Bobcat quarterback Brady McBride connected with running back Caleb Twyford for a 17-yard touchdown.
After trailing 10-0 late into the first half, FIU scored its first points when sophomore wideout Tyrese Chambers found the endzone for the second consecutive game as quarterback Max Bortenschlager connected with him for a 22-yard touchdown to send the game into halftime 10-7. FIU came out of the intermission and would go on a five-play, 81-yard scoring drive that ended in tight end Rivaldo Fairweather hauling in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Bortenschlager. Fairweather finished the evening with four catches for 54 yards and the score.
After a Chase Gabriel field goal to put FIU ahead by a touchdown, the Texas State defense forced a D’Vonte Price fumble and took advantage by embarking on a 10-play, 62-yard drive that ended with running back Brock Sturges finding the endzone and tying the game at 17. The Panthers’ offense was able to get into Texas State territory on the next drive via multiple pass interference calls against the Bobcats, but were forced to punt.
Both teams would trade a pair of punts with under six minutes left in the game and FIU’s final drive of regulation starting at their own 48-yard-line would end after three plays. In overtime, the Panthers would get the ball first. On 3rd-and-8 from the Texas State 13-yard-line, Bortenschlager would drop back and end up on the turf at the hands of Bobcats’ linebacker Issiah Nixon. In addition to the sack, Nixon was able to strip the ball and Texas State recovered.
“I didn’t really feel him coming off the edge, I tried stepping up a bit and I probably should have had better ball security there and that’s something that I have to make sure doesn’t happen again,” said Bortenschlager.
After Texas State running back Brock Sturges took the first carry for 14 yards, Sturges would finish off the Panthers with an 11-yard dash into the endzone — giving Texas State the victory.
Running back D’Vonte Price led the way offensively with 23 carres for 111 yards and quarterback Max Bortenschlager with the distance, throwing for 259 yards on 17-of-34 passing. Defensive tackle Davon Strickland played a major factor on the other side of the ball, racking up seven tackles, with one sack.
Let’s take a look at four takeaways from the Texas State game as the Panthers head to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech next week, while the Bobcats return to San Marcos to clash with FCS Incarnate Word.
If there’s one thing that’s apparent about Tyrese Chambers, it’s that he’s energetic and passionate about football. The Baltimore native traveled through stops at FCS Sacred Heart and JUCO to make it to college football’s highest level of play. After impressing in spring and fall camp, his play has carried over into the regular season in hauling in a receiving touchdown for the second consecutive game.
“He and I got a chance to work a lot together during the winter and spring, he’s a tremendous player and you have to give him opportunities to make plays,” said Bortenschlager on Chambers.
Chambers finished the evening as the contest’s leading receiver with four catches for 79 yards and the score.
Penalties and calls down the stretch were undoubtedly part of the story in deciding the winner of the game. FIU was hit eight times for 70 yards while Texas State was flagged eight times for 90 yards on the evening. As Davis noted, the timeliness of some of the calls was crucial.
“We can’t have penalties that bring back points, it’s as simple as that because those are the things that will cost you games,” said Davis.
On the flipside, FIU was able to exploit the aggressiveness of the Texas State defensive backs, earning several pass interference penalties. Postgame, Bortenschlager noted that was part of the gameplan.
“Yeah, we saw the athleticism of our guys and we knew going into it that we could take some deep shots and get some calls,” said Bortenschlager.
It had been almost four years since Bortenschlager was the starting quarterback in a victory over an FBS opponent, with his last win coming against Indiana in 2017. Postgame, the Maryland transfer wore his emotions on his sleeve in regards to how much he wanted the win.
“The mood of the locker room is definitely frustration because we knew we had our chances and this was a winnable game,” said Bortenschlager.
Davis noted that while the Maryland transfer didn’t play his best game, he’s pleased with the position as a whole.
“On that last play, nobody was open and he hung on to the ball too long,” said Davis. “I’m going to say this about him, he didn’t have a great game but I think he’s played really good overall, he looked good last week and there were times tonight especially on the explosive plays that were called back where he could have had a bigger night. He’s crushed about the loss and that’s what you want out of your quarterback, you can tell he wants to win.”
Coming into the game, it was known that McBride would give FIU their opportunities at turnovers — but he also would create plays of his own with his legs and was just as capable of leading Texas State to victory. Postgame, Davon Strickland spoke about the elusiveness of McBride.
“He’s a slippery guy and we knew that coming into it that he’s the type of quarterback that we’ve seen over the past few years, the type of player who can beat you as a dual-threat,” said Strickland. “It’s absolutely frustrating against a guy like him because he can extend plays and he really makes you work when you think you have him.”