This game had fireworks in preparation for the FIU Panthers seeking their ninth win of the season, a school record.
Alex McGough a Tampa, FL native had hundreds of family friends in attendance for this homecoming game.
Brother Shane was at the center position on the offensive line.
Opening drive the senior quarterback was knocked out of the game with a fractured collarbone after an 18-yard run.
Put the fireworks away; Panthers were doomed from there. Maurice Alexander replaced McGough but had limited success throwing the ball and was intercepted twice, a total of three turnovers for the Panthers.
The Temple Owls (7-6) owned a 28-3 victory over FIU in the Gasparilla Bowl.
Owls had 400 total yards on offense compared to 252 by the Panthers. Temple’s defense set a Gasparilla Bowl record with seven sacks.
The victory was the fourth in five games for Temple, which rebounded from a 3-5 start to finish with a winning record. The Owls, American Athletic Conference champions a year ago, won a bowl game for the first time since the 2011 New Mexico Bowl.
FIU (8-5) matched a school record for victories under first-year under Butch Davis, the former Miami, North Carolina and Cleveland Browns coach.
“Nobody’s ever happy about losing a game,” Davis said. “But what these kids accomplished this year, nobody thought was even remotely possible.”
Alexander completed 16 of 33 passes for 162 yards for FIU. The Panthers were unable to run the ball consistently to take pressure off the backup quarterback, finishing with 88 yards rushing.
Davis stressed depth at the roster position was an issue for the Panthers. Recruiting is where he can bounce back and use this season as a foundation. McGough, the Panthers’ career leader in TD passes and No. 2 in career completions and passing yards, is a senior. Leading receiver Thomas Owens (59 receptions, 887 yards, 6 TDs in nine games) is also a senior.
The Panthers finished second in Conference USA’s East Division and placed 12 players on the league’s all-conference team.