MIAMI, FL. – The FIU football team raced out to an early 12-7 advantage in the second quarter, before falling by a 34-19 margin to Western Kentucky on Saturday night at FIU Stadium.
Junior wide receiver Randall St. Felix paced the Panthers’ offense with five receptions for 104 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown grab. The total receptions, yardage total and long catch of 75 yards all represented career-best efforts for St. Felix.
Senior running back D’vonte Price added 87 rushing yards on 16 carries.
FIU senior signal caller Max Bortenschlager completed 15-of-32 pass attempts for 192 yards and a touchdown.
Western Kentucky’s offense finished the contest with 530 yards of total offense – led by quarterback Bailey Zappe, who finished 39-of-49 through the air for a total of 368 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
The Hilltopper defense recorded seven sacks en route to the win, which moved their record to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in league play. FIU slips to 1-6 overall and 0-3 in conference action.
FIU opened the game with a balanced 12-play, 75-yard march that culminated in a one-yard touchdown by Bortenschlager on a quarterback sneak, giving the Panthers a 6-0 edge 4:38 into the contest. Western Kentucky blocked the ensuing extra point attempt.
The Panthers defense produced a turnover to thwart the Hilltoppers’ best scoring opportunity in the opening quarter. Following a 15-yard catch, WKU’s Malachi Corley coughed up the football on a strip by FIU’s Joe Perkins and it was scooped up by freshman Andrew Volmar at the FIU 26.
Western Kentucky initially jumped ahead 7-6 with 7:13 left in the second quarter on an eight-yard touchdown run by Adam Coffield.
The lead lasted for just nine seconds as Bortenschlager hooked up with St. Felix for a 75-yard scoring strike that put the Panthers ahead 12-7 at the 7:04 mark of the second quarter.
Western Kentucky then started a spurt that saw it score 27 unanswered points beginning with a 23-yard field goal by Brayden Narveson with just 1:22 before halftime. Following a three-and-out by the Panthers, Mitchell Tinsley snagged a 32-yard touchdown pass from Zappe to send the Hilltoppers into the break leading 17-12.
Zappe added another two touchdown passes in the second half – both to Jerreth Sterns. The first came with on WKU’s opening drive of the third quarter on a 20-yard reception before following with a one-yard toss with 11:08 remaining in regulation to increase the advantage to 31-12.
Narveson added his second field goal of the game via a 26-yarder at the 4:08 mark of the fourth and Shaun Peterson Jr. added a late three-yard touchdown jaunt for the Panthers with 1:39 left in regulation to round out the scoring.
· FIU sophomore wide receiver Caleb Lynum made the first reception of his collegiate career with a nine-yard grab in the first quarter.
· The Panthers converted a fake punt in the third quarter when punter Tommy Heatherly connected on a 13-yard completion to long snapper Tommy Zozus for a first down.
The Panthers return to the road on Saturday, Oct. 30 as they trek to Huntington, W.V., for a Conference USA clash at Marshall. Kickoff from Joan C. Edwards Stadium is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.
FIU Panthers Athletics contributed to this column