FIU fell in its home finale to visiting Conference USA East Division rival Marshall, 48-10, on Saturday night at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium. The Panthers (1-11, 1-6 C-USA) held an early 3-0 lead through the first quarter of play, but saw the bowl-bound Thundering Herd (8-3, 6-1) score 20 points in the second quarter en route to the eventual win.
Marshall also added 14 points in both the third and fourth quarter, while FIU tacked on a touchdown of its own in the final stanza. The Herd and East Carolina share first-place in the East Division at 6-1, with the two schools playing each other on Friday, Nov. 29, in Huntington, W.V.
FIU grabbed the early lead on its first drive of the game when Austin Taylor converted on a 43-yard field goal attempt after an eight-play, 49-yard drive. Marshall was held scoreless in the first quarter, forced into three punts.
It took until Marshall's fourth drive before it scored on Rakeem Cato's 25-yard pass to Gator Hoskins to go ahead, 7-3, at 13:25 in the second quarter. The Thundering Herd then pushed its lead to 13-3 at 5:42 in the second when Steward Butler broke several Panther tackles on his way to a 71-yard touchdown run. The Butler touchdown was the longest rushing score on FIU this season. Justin Haig would miss on the extra point attempt. Just before halftime, Marshall converted on its third touchdown of the first half, 20-3, when Cato found Tommy Shuler streaking across the middle for a 21-yard passing score.
During the second quarter, FIU sophomore defensive end Michael Wakefield blocked a Haig 38-yard field goal attempt, the Panthers fourth block on the 2013 season. The four blocked kicks are the third-most by FIU in a single-season. Wakefield totaled all four of his tackles, including a seven-yard sack all in the first half.
Hoskins scored two more touchdowns in the third quarter as Marshall built a 34-3 lead heading into the fourth. For the game, Hoskins led all receivers with six catches for 137 yards and three touchdowns. His two scoring catches in the third were for 15 and 32 yards.
Cato finished the game 15-of-31 passing for 241 yards and four touchdowns.
At the 10:03 mark in the fourth, FIU quarterback E.J. Hilliard found tight end Ya'Keem Griner in the endzone on a 10-yard passing play. The drive went four plays and 35 yards. Hilliard went 15-of-29 passing for 167 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Marshall reserve quarterback Blake Frohnapfel scored both of the Herd's touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The first came on a 45-yard quarterback keeper up the middle and the second was on a 40-yard pass to Justin Hunt with 2:18 left in the game.
FIU freshman tight end Jonnu Smith led the Panthers with three catches for 46 yards. He continued his streak as the lone Panther to have at least one catch in all 11 games this season. Linebacker Davison Colimon led FIU with six solo tackles.
The Marshall game marked the final home game for 11 seniors, including: Darrious Cook, Junior Delpe, Isame Faciane, Greg Hickman, Derrick Jones, Jr., Sam Miller, Markeith Russell, Zach Schaubhut, Rockey Vann, Jairus Williams and Mitch Wozniak.
The Panthers will next travel to Boca Raton for the season-concluding Shula Bowl game at Florida Atlantic on Friday, Nov. 29. Kick-off from FAU Stadium will be at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on FOX Sports 1.