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November 17, 2013

Post Game Summary

The FIU Football team dropped a 33-10 contest to the UTEP Miners on Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.

UTEP scored a touchdown and a safety in the third quarter to go up on FIU, 26-7. The score came on a 64-yard pass from quarterback Mack Leftwich to Jordan Leslie. Up until that point, the Miners had just 16 passing yards all-game. The safety came on a Silas Spearman third-down fumble after FIU started its drive on its own four-yard line.
UTEP held a 17-7 lead going into halftime, with most of their offensive damage coming on the ground. Despite holding UTEP to 16 yards passing in the first half, the Miners rushed for 204 yards with both of their touchdowns coming on short-yardage runs. Back-up quarterback Blaire Sullivan led the way for UTEP in the first two quarters with 95 of the 204 rushing yards, including runs of 56 and 35 yards.

The Panthers would end a six-quarter scoring drought with 46 seconds left in the first quarter when running back Lamarq Caldwell converted a halfback touchdown pass for 16 yards to T.J. Lowder. The FIU score narrowed UTEP's lead to 10-7. FIU last got in the endzone in the second quarter against East Carolina on Nov. 2, before going scoreless at Middle Tennessee last Saturday. The key play on the drive was a 32-yard completion from quarterback Jake Medlock to Dominique Rhymes two plays earlier that put the ball at the UTEP 20-yard line. Rhymes, a redshirt sophomore, was making his first start since his true freshman season in 2011.

Beginning the game on its own 42-yard-line, UTEP would drive 58 yards on 12 plays finishing with Autrey Golden's four-yard touchdown run. After an FIU three-and-out, the Miners took their second drive 64 yards on six plays ending with a Jay Mattox 34-yard field goal and an early 10-point lead. Sullivan, substituting for starter Leftwich, aided the drive with a 56-yard rush on second down to take the ball all the way to the FIU 22-yard-line.

UTEP look to shake off FIU's scoring drive when Golden took the ensuing kick-off 60 yards to the FIU 33-yard-line, then followed with Nathan Jeffery's 12-yard rush on first down. However, the Panthers defense came up strong on the next three plays to force a Mattox 38-yard field goal attempt that would sail wide right.

FIU would punt on its next two possessions before the Miners scored again with 38 seconds remaining in the second quarter. UTEP went up 17-7 after Jeffery scored on a fourth-and-one to conclude a 65-yard, nine-play drive. Sullivan, subbing again on the play for Leftwich, started the drive with a 35-yard rush to the FIU 30. Four plays later, Golden ran the ball 17 yards to the FIU three-yard line. FIU's goal-line defense held UTEP for three plays, before Jeffery's plunge into the endzone.

In the fourth quarter, freshman kicker Austin Taylor connected on a 31-yard field goal at the 9:48 mark. UTEP answered with a 54-yard touchdown run from Jeffrey to make it 33-10 with 7:05 to go in the game.

The Panthers will next host C-USA East Division rival Marshall in its final home game on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium. Senior Night, presented by the Florida Lottery, will kick-off at 6 p.m. ET and will be televised on FOX College Sports.

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