by Chuck Pool (email@example.com) -
Jackson Tyner saw his hopes for a dramatic finish fall just short and FIU's Isaiah Brown knocked away a fourth down attempt in the end zone with 1:06 left to give FIU and 13-7 win over Rice on Saturday night.
Tyner had led the Owls on a furious final drive that started at midfield with 5:04 remaining in the game, but the Owls (1-2/1-1) could move no further than the Panther nine-yard line.
"That was really a tough loss tonight," Rice head coach David Bailiff said. "When you give yourself an opportunity at the end of it to win and can't seize that moment. We've got to make plays.
"We've asked (the quarterbacks) to manage the game and I thought overall tonight Tyner did that. He had the one errant throw you'd like to have back. But I thought he had a lot of good reads. We're getting a lot of one on one situations but we're getting tackled. When you get the space on those sweeps one guy shouldn't be able to bring us down," he stated.
After a scoreless first quarter, FIU opened the scoring on the first play of the second as Alex McGough hit Pharoah McKeever with an eight-yard pass in the end zone. Rice immediately answered with a 12 play, 75 yard march highlighted by a 17-yard completion from Parker Smith to Tyner to place the ball at the FIU three. Tyner capped the drive moments later with a three-yard run.
Tyner was 15-26 with one interception and 131 yards through the air and added 16 rushing and 17 receiving on the night, while FIU's Alex McGough threw for 172 yards and a touchdown while enduring five sacks by the Rice defense, which limited the Panthers to 129 yards below their season average.
FIU took the lead on the final play of half with a 44-yard field goal and added a second early in the third quarter. But the Owls defense clamped down on the Panthers over the final 27 minutes, limiting them to just 75 yards in the second half and holding them to -22 in the final quarter.
"Defensively I thought we played absolutely outstanding," Bailiff said. "I didn't like right before halftime we let them get that field goal. We had the deep ball interception and Brian Womac, Graysen Schantz and Emmanuel Ellerbee, the whole d-line did a good job of keeping their offense contained."
Womac spearheaded the Owls defensive charge, reaching career highs with seven tackles, two sacks and four tackles for loss. Ellerbee led the team with eight tackles on the night. Eight different Owls registered a tackle for loss in the game as they totaled 11 on the night.
The Owls will return to the road next Saturday, their fourth road game in the first five weeks of the season when they take on the Pitt Panthers. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. (central).