Football looks to return to form against UTEP on Vice Night

Sophomore wide receiver Dean Patterson in FIU's vice uniform. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Will Duval | Sports Director

The FIU football team looks to find their footing after two consecutive losses, taking on the UTEP Miners on Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Holding a 3-3 record this season, the Panthers took a 34-17 loss at the hands of the New Mexico State Aggies on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023.

After playing a competitive game for the first three quarters, their offense and defense both fell apart in the fourth quarter.

In the first half of the game, both teams matched each other in scoring and reached a 14-14 stalemate entering halftime.

Opening the second half, the Aggies drove the ball down the field and settled for a field goal after junior quarterback Diego Pavia couldn’t find his target in the endzone. 

Falling into a 17-14 deficit, FIU answered back with an offensive drive that lasted over six minutes and resulted in a score. 

On third down with five yards remaining, the Panthers were on the opposing 22-yard line and opted to run the ball with freshman quarterback Keyone Jenkins.

As he got stuffed at the line-of-scrimmage, the play resulted in no gain and led to a 41-yard field goal for junior kicker Chase Gabriel.

Tying the game at 17-17, this marked the second game where FIU scored during the second half, only doing so when they scored 29 against the North Texas Mean Green on Sep. 4, 2023.

That was the only time they scored in the second half, as they went on to get blown out in the fourth quarter.

Scoring on the first play of the quarter, Pavia found his way into the endzone after a 43-yard rush and helped New Mexico State claim a 24-17 lead.

Returning on offense, the Panthers couldn’t find any momentum, as their drive ended quickly after Jenkins was sacked on third and 10.

Unwilling to let the opportunity to pull away escape them, New Mexico State received the ball and only needed four plays to score.

Following a deep pass from Pavia and a 32-yard rush from sophomore running back Monte Watkins, junior running back Star Thomas finished the job with a three-yard touchdown run.

Putting the score at 31-14, FIU needed to rally in order to have a chance at winning the game. In the two offensive drives they played after, Jenkins threw an interception in both.

Sealing the deal with a field goal, the Aggies took a 34-14 victory over the Panthers and handed them their second loss in a row.

Jenkins threw for 250 yards in the game with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He was frequently pressured by the opposing defense, as he was sacked six times with FIU allowing seven during the game.

Over six games this season, they’re 0-3 when scoring zero passing touchdowns in a game and 3-0 when scoring at least one passing touchdown. This game also marks the first they lose after throwing for 250 or more yards.

Looking for a jump start on both ends of the field, the Panthers are hosting the UTEP Miners and are debuting their new vice themed uniforms.

Sophomore wide receiver Dean Patterson showing off FIU’s vice uniforms. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Coming into this matchup, the Miners hold a 1-5 record and are coming off a 24-10 loss against the LA Tech Bulldogs on Sep. 29, 2023.

Struggling offensively in that game, they played two different quarterbacks who only completed four passes each. Neither quarterback threw for more than 50 yards or had over a 40% completion percentage.

Their only score came through their running game as freshman quarterback Jake McNamara found his way into the endzone. He was the third quarterback to see playing time in that game and only completed one pass for nine yards.

For the season, UTEP’s passing game hasn’t been much better, as they’ve thrown six touchdowns and eight interceptions.

If FIU wants to leave this game with a positive record, they must force the Miners into bad decisions and short drives.

As second half scoring has been a serious problem for the Panthers this year, scoring 29 out of their 32 points against North Texas, they must remain engaged defensively if their offense isn’t getting the job done.

While they’ve shown a capability to score the ball at a high rate, most of the team’s scoring comes during the first half. When the offense is contained in the second half, they’ve been allowing teams to get within striking distance.

Attempting to get back on track, the FIU football team is debuting their vice uniforms against the UTEP Miners on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023 in Miami, Florida.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the FIU Football Stadium and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN2.


FIU: 24

UTEP: 10

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