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(Saturday, October 5)
Final Score: FIU 24, Southern Miss 23
Hattiesburg, MS (SportsNetwork.com) - A potential game-winning field goal by Corey Acosta from 44 yards away was blocked on the final play of the game, ensuring a 24-23 win for the FIU Panthers over the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Roberts Stadium.
Leading the way on offense for the Panthers (1-4, 1-0 C-USA), in their first Conference USA affair, was Silas Spearman who ran for a game-high 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 29 carries. Quarterback E.J. Hilliard added another 93 yards and a score on 8-of-13 passing for the visitors as they snapped a five-game slide which stretched back to last season.
The Golden Eagles (0-5, 0-1), owners of the longest losing streak in the nation at 17 in a row, were paced by Allan Bridgford who converted 26-of-45 for 243 yards and three touchdowns, but he was also picked off twice. Markese Triplett reeled in seven passes for 96 yards and two scores in the losing cause.
The only points of the first quarter came courtesy of Triplett who finished off a 12-play, 60-yard drive with a 13-yard TD reception for USM.
FIU responded early in the second period when Spearman crossed the goal line on a three-yard run to knot the score at 7-7.
The teams continued to trade scores throughout the day, with Bridgford hooking up with Jalen Richard on a 39-yard TD pass play, while Spearman countered with a one-yard TD for the Panthers to make the score 14-14.
Southern Miss picked up a safety at the 2:14 mark of the second quarter, but just over a minute later FIU assumed the lead on a 16-yard TD reception by T.J. Lowder.
Triplett struck again in the third, the only points of the period, on a six- yard TD catch to give USM a 23-21 edge with 8:45 to play in the frame.
After a long scoring drought, FIU kicker Austin Taylor knocked through a 27- yard field goal to give the Panthers a one-point advantage with 6:53 remaining in regulation.
USM, which held the visitors to just 2-of-14 on third down, entered the week tied with New Mexico State for the longest active losing streak in the nation at 16 in a row. The Golden Eagles, who went winless in 2012, last came out on top versus Nevada by a score of 24-17 back on Dec. 24, 2011 in the Hawaii Bowl.
10/05 21:29:53 ET
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