AKRON, Ohio – Wesley Carroll threw for 308 yards and Kedrick Rhodes rushed 22 times for 126 yards and one touchdown to lead visiting Florida International over Akron by a 27-17 margin in a non-league contest on Saturday on Homecoming at Infocision Stadium – Summa Field.
T.Y. Hilton set an FIU (4-2) record with 12 receptions, accounting for 144 yards en route to 192 total yards for the contest.
The Golden Panthers held a 524-262 edge in total yards and possessed the ball for 35:03 to maintain control of the contest with an offense predicated on short passes to Hilton and Wayne Times (6 receptions for 44 yards).
Clayton Moore led Akron (1-5) with his legs more so than his arm, rushing for a season-high 51 yards and one touchdown while attempting 23 passes. Brian Wagner set a career high with 22 tackles, including one tackle for a loss.
Jawon Chisholm had his streak of three-consecutive 100-yard rushing games snapped, posting 43 yards and one touchdown.
The Panthers had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard first, but a 23-yard field goal attempt from Jack Griffin banged off the right upright to keep the game scoreless in the first quarter. Griffin was able to atone for his miss with a 37-yard make midway through the first quarter to stake FIU to a 3-0 lead.
Akron countered with a seven-play, 76-yard touchdown fueled by three long runs by Moore and three rushes by Chisholm, who capped the march with a one-yard touchdown plunge, his third of the year.
A 40-yard field goal by A.J. Fox extended the Zips' lead to 10-3 early in the second quarter and the defense protected the advantage when Johnny Robinson made a diving interception of a Carroll pass in the end zone to snuff out an FIU drive.
The Panthers began their next drive with good field position at their own 49 and ran the ball on eight of the series' nine players, scoring when Darriet Perry scampered into the end zone from two yards out for the tying touchdown.
FIU was able to seize its second lead of the game following an interception in Akron territory near the end of the half, with the turnover ending a streak of 119 consecutive passes without an interception for Moore.
Following the turnover, the Panthers drove to the Akron 4 and Griffin split the uprights from 21 yards out to stake FIU to a 13-10 halftime lead.
Akron ran just 25 plays in the first half compared to FIU's 40, with Moore attempting just six passes in the frame. Chisholm rushed for 47 yards on eight first-half carries despite sitting out the first two UA series due to an injury.
The two teams traded punts throughout the first half of the third quarter, with FIU finally breaking the defensive standoff thanks to a 68-yard screen pass from Carroll to junior flanker Willis Wright to set the Panthers up at the Akron 13. Five plays later, Rhodes burrowed in from the 1-yard line to make the score 20-10 in favor of the visitors.
Moore retaliated with his first career rushing touchdown on a broken play to put the finishing touches on a four-play scoring drive punctuated by a 44-yard pass to A.J. Price, who made a leaping catch to set the Zips up at the FIU 18. Moore dropped back to pass, could not find an open receiver and ran untouched to the left corner of the end zone for the touchdown to bring Akron within three, 20-17.
A nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive spanning the third and fourth quarters allowed the Panthers to re-establish a two-score lead. Perry's second touchdown run of the day, a three-yard effort, capped the scoring march.
FIU was able to overcome a rash of penalties in the second half as it was flagged 10 times for 80 yards in the game.
A key roughing the passer penalty boosted Akron's final drive, as a 13-yard completion from Moore to Price and the 15-yard penalty gave Akron a first-and-10 at the FIU 27. However, the Zips were unable to finish the drive off after Moore fumbled on a play fake and FIU's James Jones recovered at the FIU 15.
Akron will enjoy its bye week and returns to action on Oct. 22 when it plays host to Mid-American Conference East Division foe Ohio at Infocision Stadium – Summa Field. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and the contest is scheduled to be telecast by SportsTime Ohio.
Zips Notebook: Freshman running back Karl Bostick and freshman safety Devonte Morgan made their first career starts today ... freshman safety Johnny Robinson recorded the first interception of his career and the first for the Zips this season ... junior linebacker Brian Wagner recorded the 20th double-digit tackle total of his career (30 games, all starts) ... sophomore quarterback Clayton Moore's streak of 119 pass attempts without an interception was the third-longest in school history (dating to the second half of the game at Cincinnati on Sept. 17). The program's second-longest streak was Charlie Frye's 127 attempts (Sept. 23, 2004 to Nov. 5, 2004) ... Moore is the first Zips' player to score a touchdown on the ground, throwing and receiving since Brett Biggs did so during the 2005 season ... UA alum and comedian George Wallace was an honorary participant in the coin toss.