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Entering Friday night, the general thought was that FIU’s game against FCS opponent Jacksonville State was the Panthers’ easiest chance for a victory this season.
When it was all said and done, the Gamecocks and their backup quarterback left Riccardo Silva Stadium and the fans in blue and gold shocked after a 19-10 upset win.
FIU (0-3) was able to showcase their defense early on, sacking and injuring Jacksonville State quarterback Zerrick Cooper. The Clemson transfer would play one more series before being replaced by Zion Webb – who threw for just 103 yards but managed to control the offense for the Gamecocks.
The Panthers got on the board first with a 37-yard field goal from freshman kicker Chase Gabriel, coming one play after redshirt freshman quarterback Stone Norton missed a wide open wide receiver, Nate Jefferson, in the end zone.
After JSU (3-1) tied the game at three midway through the first quarter, the teams weren’t able to put another scoring drive together until the Gamecocks put together a 14 play drive, going 98 yards and finishing with a two yard touchdown run by Josh Samuels for the 10-3 lead.
Samuels would finish the game with 25 carries for 166 yards and that score, part of a run game where the Gamecocks out rushed FIU 285 to 72.
JSU would add a second field goal by Alen Karajic following a 12 play drive before the half and take a 13-3 lead into the locker room and added another Karajic field goal on the opening drive of the second half.
FIU escaped further damage after Norton fumbled on a keeper when they blocked a field goal attempt by Karajic. Norton hooked up with Jefferson and the Panthers found themselves in the red zone before the duo connected on a five yard touchdown pass that pulled FIU within six points.
Norton finished the game 5 for 14 passing for just 66 yards and that one touchdown pass.
The Panthers had a chance to get closer, but Gabriel missed a field goal attempt that forced the defense to against get the Gamecocks to punt. FIU went three and out, allowing JSU to get the ball back and seal the win with Karajic’s fourth field goal of the game.
JSU had 26 first downs in the game compared to just six for the Panthers while out gaining FIU by nearly 300 total yards (444 to 156) and having a nearly 25 minutes advantage in time of possession.
Friday marked the final game of the fall for the Gamecocks, who will play the remainder of their games in the spring. JSU played their second game of the fall in Sunshine State after losing October 3rd against the FSU Seminoles.
FIU returns to Conference USA action next Friday when they are scheduled to host Marshall with kickoff at 7 p.m.