MIAMI – Bethune-Cookman once again opened its football season with a defensive struggle, outlasting Florida International 14-12 before a crowd of 14,053 at Ocean Bank Field Saturday night.
In a game similar to last year’s 12-9 win at Tennessee, the Wildcat defense contained the Panthers and did just enough offensively as B-CU downed their FBS opposition for the second straight season and fourth time.
FIU had a chance to win the game on the final play, but had an errant snap on a 55-yard Austin Taylor field goal attempt, and the Wildcats sacked holder Chris Ayers for a 16-yarder
The Wildcats held FIU to a pair of Austin Taylor 25-yard field goals in the second quarter until Richard Leonard’s 71-yard punt return to the Bethune-Cookman 7 set up Alex McGough’s fourth-down 5-yarder touchdown to T.J. Lowder with 5:16 remaining that cut B-CU’s lead to 14-12.
B-CU maintained the lead when Erik Williams, who had three sacks, hurried McGough into an overthrow on the two-point conversion attempt.
Still, the Panthers had the final possession and a chance to win after advancing to the B-CU 27 in the final minute.
Meanwhile, the Wildcat made their most of their big plays.
A 46-yard Quentin Williams to Michael D. Jones catch-and-run followed by Williams’ 17-yarder to Darian Baker put the ball at the Panther one. Jones, a sophomore running back from Sarasota, bullied in two plays later to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 11:26 remaining in the first half.
After nursing a 7-6 lead for the third quarter, B-CU upped its lead to 14-6 with 12:26 remaining when Frank Brown beat one-on-one coverage deep, shook a tackle, and finished a 55-yard touchdown pass from Williams.
Williams finished 8 of 17 for 149 yards with the one touchdown passing while rushing for 39. Anthony Jordan, who posted a career-high 150 yards against FIU here a year prior, gained 64 yards on 19 carries.
The Wildcats got to the FIU 28 on their opening drive, but came up empty when Williams was sacked on fourth down.
B-CU’s defense held FIU to 186 yards and just one third conversion in 16 attempts. Williams and Tavarus each had eight tackles, and LeBranden Richardson posted three tackles for loss.
The Wildcats are off next week, returning to action against Grambling State in their home opener September 13 at Daytona Beach’s Municipal Stadium.
Courtesy: B-CU Athletics