Wildcat defense blankets FIU in 14-12 season open win

T Finnie and BCU defense blankets FIU

T Finnie and BCU defense blankets FIU

The Vegas betting lines closed on Saturday with FCS Bethune-Cookman listed as three point road favorites against FBS Florida International. The Wildcats’ narrow 14-12 victory didn’t quite cover the Vegas point spread or much resemble the 34-13 drubbing they put on FIU a season ago but it thrilled BCU’s coaches, players and fans nonetheless.

“All I can say is thank you. The Good Lord was on our side tonight. My hat goes off to this FIU team (they are) majorly improved” a relieved Brian Jenkins exclaimed at the end of the contest.

The Wildcats’ stifling defense limited FIU to just 186 yards of total offense and was largely to blame for the win. Erik Williams led the defensive charge accounting for 3 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 8 total tackles in the winning effort.  “Erik is a tremendous player. He has had to fight back through two shoulder injuries. He is back and I think he has proven that he can play at a dominating level. I am glad that he is playing for us” Jenkins stated.

On the other side of the ball, BCU’s offense found it difficult to find its rhythm for large portions of the evening. Quentin Williams got the start at quarterback and helped the Cats sustain a nice opening drive.

Mike  Jones celebrates 1 yard TD run w/teammates

Mike Jones celebrates 1 yard TD run w/teammates

However, the Wildcat offense failed to convert the opening drive into points and remained pedestrian until early in the 2nd quarter when Williams connected with Michael Jones on a 46 yard screen pass on 3rd and 15. After a 17 yard Williams to Darian Baker pass and run, Jones capped the drive with a 1 yard td run to give BCU an early 7-0 lead.

FIU return specialist Richard Leonard set the Panthers up with nice field position after returning the ensuing kickoff 54 yards. The Panthers registered their first points of the season 6 plays later when Austin Taylor successfully converted a 25 yard field goal.

Taylor converted his second 25 yard field goal of the contest near the end of the 2nd quarter and cut BCU’s lead to 7-6 heading into the half.

The Wildcat offense continued to struggle in the 2nd half. In fact, BCU only crossed midfield once in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Thankfully for the Cats, the lone 2nd half venture into FIU territory ended with a 55 yard touchdown toss from Williams to redshirt freshman receiver Frank Brown with 12:26 remaining in the 4th. Williams was forced to scramble to his right on the play to avoid multiple FIU defenders. He spotted Brown breaking free of coverage up the left seam and gave his receiver a chance to make a play on the ball. Brown outleaped one defender, made a 2nd defender miss and outran everyone for BCU’s go ahead score. The td catch was Brown’s first ever collegiate reception.

“I dreamt the last three nights that I would score in this game on a big play so when the ball was in the air I just attacked it like my coaches taught me.” “Right before the game, my (position) coach told me this is your first college game, make your first big play. That stuck with me throughout the game“ Brown stated. “(Crossing the goal line) felt great.”

FIU threaten late when Leonard made another spectacular return, this time on the end of a Jonathan Cagle punt. The 71 yard return gave the Panther’s 1st and goal from the BCU 7 yard line.  FIU punctuated the drive when Alex McGough connected with TJ Lowder on a 5 yard slant on 4th and 5 to cut the BCU lead to 14-12. But that was as close as FIU would get.

Bethune’s defense stood strong once again and held the Panthers’ on the 2 point conversion attempt.

The Panthers had one last opportunity to secure the victory after assuming possession at their own 39 yard line with 2:29 remaining. After converting a 4th and 13 and tacking on an additional 15 yards for roughing the passer, FIU was primed to seal just its 2nd victory since the 2012 season.

FIU lined up for what would have been a game winning 46 yard FG attempt with 5 seconds remaining. However, the snap was botched and BCU held on for the victory.

The Cats have a bye week next Saturday before playing hosts to Grambling State in their home opener on September 13th.

Team Stat Comparison





1st Downs 11 12
Total Yards 239 186
Passing 149 143
Rushing 90 43
Penalties 10-86 8-47
3rd Down Conversions 5-16 1-16
4th Down Conversions 1-2 3-5
Turnovers 0 0
Possession 32:26 27:34

Passing Leaders

Bethune-Cookman C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Quentin Williams 8/17 149 8.8 1 0
Florida International C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT
Alex McGough 13/27 117 4.3 1 0
E.J. Hilliard 3/6 26 4.3 0 0

Rushing Leaders

Bethune-Cookman CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Anthony Jordan 19 64 3.4 0 14
Cary White 3 25 8.3 0 15
Florida International CAR YDS AVG TD LG
Alex Gardner 12 46 3.8 0 22
Lamarq Caldwell 10 15 1.5 0 3

Receiving Leaders

Bethune-Cookman REC YDS AVG TD LG
Frank Brown 1 55 55.0 1 55
Michael D. Jones 1 46 46.0 0 46
Florida International REC YDS AVG TD LG
Ya’Keem Griner 3 36 12.0 0 28
Dominique Rhymes 3 32 10.7 0 17

Scoring Summary

  TD 11:26 Michael D. Jones 1 Yd Run (Haden Hoggarth Kick) 7 0
  FG 9:02 Austin Taylor 25 Yd Field Goal 7 3
  FG 3:27 Austin Taylor 25 Yd Field Goal 7 6
  TD 12:26 Frank Brown 55 Yd pass from Quentin Williams (Haden Hoggarth Kick) 14 6
  TD 5:16 T.J. Lowder 5 Yd pass from Alex McGough (Two-Point Pass Conversion Failed) 14 12

Final Update: HailWildcats.com Fan bus to FIU game (Tailgate included)

Gold and Silver HelmetsThis is the final update for the HailWildcats.com fan bus to the FIU game in Miami this upcoming Saturday, August 30th.

The Miami-Dade Alumni chapter has graciously agreed to host HailWildcats.com fan bus travelers at what they are calling “one of the largest tailgates south of the boarder.”  The low cost of $40 covers the cost of transportation to and from FIU stadium as well as a tailgate meal provided by the Miami-Dade Alumni chapter.

There are two pick-up locations for bus travelers.  The first pick-up will take place in the Home Depot parking lot on Lee Road in Orlando, Florida.  The bus will depart at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. The address is 5351 Diplomat Circle, Orlando, FL 32810.

The second pick-up location is on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach between the Facilities building and the Band Hall.  The bus will depart from campus at 11:00 a.m.

Roughly 10 seats remain so act quickly.  $40 for transportation and lunch is the best deal going so be sure to contact Darold Williams at 904-351-8381 in the Daytona Area or Jerry Bell at 407-494-5302 in Orlando to secure your seat(s) before they are sold out.

We suggest you bring a light jacket, sweater or blanket for the bus.  Also, you are strongly encouraged to bring a foldable lawn chair for the tailgate.  Drinks and snacks are permitted on the bus so feel free to bring your own refreshments.

DSC_0365Itinerary: Saturday, August 30th

10:00 – Depart from the Lee Road Home Depot in Orlando.

11:00 – Depart from B-CU campus in Daytona Beach.

3:00  – Arrive at FIU Stadium and join the B-CU Tailgate hosted by the Miami-Dade Alumni Chapter (Meal included with the $40 transportation cost).

7:00 – Kickoff B-CU at FIU (FIU Stadium – Miami, FL).

After the Game – Stop for a light dinner en route back to Daytona and Orlando.

Payments may be made in person with cash only or online through PayPal.  Checks are NOT accepted.  If you have any questions, please call or text Jerry Bell at 407-494-5302 in the Orlando Area or Darold Williams at 904-351-8381 in the Daytona Area.

Hail Wildcats!