MIAMI, Fla. - Rice University football jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and held off FIU to claim a 31-17 win in the first meeting with the new Conference USA foe at FIU Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
For a second-straight game, the Owls (5-3, 3-1 C-USA) struck early. After forcing and recovering a fumble on FIU's opening drive, Jowan Davis ran 19 yards for a touchdown on Rice's first play from scrimmage less than a minute into the game.
After forcing a punt on the next possession, Rice drove 39 yards on eight plays to set up James Farrimond for a career-long 40-yard field goal to give the visitors a 10-0 advantage just midway through the first quarter.
Rice tacked on seven more points in the frame as Driphus Jackson connected with Jordan Taylor for a 63-yard touchdown to push the lead to 17-0. FIU then got on the board late in the period with a 52-yard strike.
Jackson finished the day with 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 11-of-24 passing and ran the ball nine times for 66 yards. Taylor notched a season-high 115 yards on six catches.
After another Panther (3-6, 2-3) touchdown early in the second quarter, Rice responded with another long strike as Jackson found freshman James Mayden for a 69-yard completion. That score pushed the advantage back to double figures at 24-14 before FIU notched a field goal just before halftime to take a 24-17 deficit into the locker room.
The teams battled to a scoreless third quarter before Rice pushed its advantage back to multiple possessions early in the fourth. Luke Turner punctuated a six-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run from the Wild Owl formation early in the frame to put the visitors ahead, 31-17.
That would conclude the scoring as the Owls shut down each of FIU's final drives before they gained momentum.
After missing several games with an injury, defensive end Zach Patt tallied five sacks, with three forced fumbles. Gabe Baker, Jaylon Finner and Alex Lyons each added six tackles in the game as Rice limited FIU to 261 yards in the game.
The Owls return to Houston for a Nov. 8 Homecoming tilt against UTSA. The contest is set for an 11 a.m. kickoff on Fox Sports Net.