Panthers blow past Arkansas-Pine Bluff in their final non-conference game

Quarterback James Morgan prepares to pass the ball down field in the home opener against the Indiana Hoosiers at Riccardo Silva Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018. (Gerard Albert III/PantherNow)

By Brett Shweky/Sports Director



The Panthers’ aerial assault was firing on all cylinders against Arkansas-Pine Bluff as quarterback James Morgan threw for four touchdowns and led FIU to a 55-9 victory at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

Morgan thrived against the Golden Lions’ defense and finished the game with 341 passing yards and four touchdowns on just 14 attempts.

“Tonight, James [Morgan] played extremely well,” said head coach Butch Davis. “Very rarely was he under any kind of stress or pressure from a protection standpoint.”

The transfer from Bowling Green tied the program record for passing touchdowns in a single game. Paul McCall set school-record mark twice in 2008.

Wide receiver Maurice Alexander scored the opening touchdown of the game for the Panthers when he sliced his way through the defense on a 76-yard play in the first.

Alexander now has four total touchdowns since switching from the quarterback position.

The Booker T. Washington High graduate finished the night with five receptions for 144 yards and one touchdown.

Cornerback Rishard Dames picked off UAPB quarterback Skyler Perry in the first quarter to record his first interception of his collegiate career.

FIU’s defense was forced to overcome the loss of star linebacker Fermin Silva. The senior will miss the remainder of the season with an undisclosed leg injury.

“It was disappointing in practice. I mean because he was off to a great start,” said Davis. “He literally was out of surgery less than 30 minutes, and he’s on the phone ‘Coach, I’ll be back. I’ll be faster, bigger, stronger.’ He’s a playmaker. You saw what he can do in the game against Miami.”

Despite the critical injury, the unit limited the Golden Lions’ offense by to just three field goals.

Linebacker Sage Lewis was a catalyst for the Panthers’ defense as he ended the game with 16 total tackles. Following his performance, the junior now has 61 total tackles for the season.

Wide receiver CJ Worton caught his fourth touchdown since transferring to FIU as he hauled in a 52-yard pass from Morgan.

In the second quarter, FIU found the end zone in an unorthodox way.

Redshirt junior Austin Maloney scored after he scooped up a fumble from his teammate Maurice Alexander and returned it 37-yards for the touchdown.

FIU also got their running game going as the unit rushed for 220 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Running back Napoleon Maxwell ripped off a 44-yard touchdown run to continue the team’s offensive success and increase the Panthers’ lead to 31-3.

Fellow running back, D’Vonte Price, followed up by scoring on a 10-yard run with 7:42 remaining in the second quarter.

The Panthers started the second half off with a bang when Morgan connected with freshman wide receiver Cadarius Gaskin on a 75-yard touchdown pass. Gaskin scored his first collegiate career touchdown.

Before the conclusion of the third quarter, Price found paint turf for the second time of the night as he sprinted past UAPB defenders for a 70-yard touchdown run.

The sophomore running back ended the matchup with 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns on five attempts.

Next up, the Panthers will have a much-needed bye week before they face Middle Tennessee on Oct. 13 at Riccardo Silva Stadium. Start time is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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