Brandon Cosme | Contributing Writer
In the earliest start to a season in school history, FIU football fell to the LA Tech Bulldogs in a 22-17 loss on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023 in Ruston, Louisiana.
While the Bulldogs are a historically tough matchup for FIU, the Panthers defeated them in double-overtime in the 2022 season.
That game was defined by junior quarterback Grayson James’ passing offense, where he threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns.
Starting off the game with some explosiveness, redshirt sophomore running back Shomari Lawrence broke through for a 67-yard touchdown run in only the third play of the game.
Giving the Panthers an early 7-0 lead, they still weren’t done scoring in the quarter.
After the Bulldogs’ redshirt senior quarterback Hank Bachmeier threw an interception into the hands of senior defensive back D’Verick Daniel, the Panthers found themselves in position to score once again.
Due to a few short gains and a pass interference penalty, FIU was placed on LA Tech’s six-yard line.
Taking advantage of the field positioning, freshman running back Antonio Patterson found his way into the end zone on a 6-yard rush, giving the Panthers a 14-0 lead to end the first quarter.
In the first drive of the second quarter, the Bulldogs immediately responded with a field goal, cutting FIU’s lead down to 14-3.
Unable to find any momentum in the passing department, the Panthers marched their way down the field, led mostly by Lawrence. The drive ended in a field goal, making the score 17-3 in what would be FIU’s final points of the game.
LA Tech remained unshaken by the two touchdown lead that the Panthers held, responding quickly before halftime.
On the first play of their new drive, Bachmeier connected with redshirt senior Smoke Harris on a short pass, who then broke free from the pressure and scored a 65-yard touchdown.
The Panthers lead was cut down to 17-10 and they were unable to help themselves in the next drive, resulting in a three-and-out.
Despite only having 2:22 remaining in the half, the Bulldogs made the most out of the time, thanks to their no huddle offense and receivers.
Redshirt junior kicker Jacob Barnes capped off LA Tech’s drive with a 32-yard field goal, making the score 17-13 entering halftime, with FIU’s lead withering away.
Coming out of halftime, the game remained in a stalemate until late in the fourth quarter.
To start the fourth quarter, LA Tech moved down the field quickly, with the drive ending in a 46-yard field goal from Barnes.
Making the score 17-16, the Panthers’ two touchdown lead was cut down to only one point.
Unable to generate offense, FIU couldn’t find any sort of momentum in the fourth quarter, giving the ball right back to the Bulldogs whenever possible.
Back on offense with 2:28 remaining in the game, the Bulldogs had the drive that most offenses can only dream about.
Barreling their way down the field, LA Tech’s drive was capped off with a 30-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Jacob Fields, giving the Bulldogs a 22-17 lead.
Unable to score again, the Panthers’ loss was cemented when Grayson James threw an interception on the second play of their final drive.
Taking a 22-17 loss at the hands of LA Tech, the Panthers fall to 0-1 to begin their new season. Only totaling 4 passing yards for the entire game, FIU’s offense needs to get in sync in order to win games.
Looking to get back on track, FIU football will be taking on the Maine Black Bears on Saturday, Sep. 2, 2023, at the FIU Stadium in Miami, FL.
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Follow Brandon Cosme on X: @brandonjaymz01