CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — James Morgan passed for 268 yards and two touchdowns and Napoleon Maxwell ran for 102 yards and two scores — including a 52-yarder midway through the fourth quarter — to help Florida International hold off Charlotte 42-35 on Saturday.
The Golden Panthers (8-3, 6-1 Conference USA) sit in the driver's seat with a berth in the C-USA championship game at stake. FIU needs only a win over third-place Marshall in the final regular-season game to reach the title game against UAB. Despite the fact that both the Golden Panthers and Middle Tennessee have 6-1 records in the East Division, the Panthers would advance by virtue of their 24-21 win over the Blue Raiders on Oct. 13.
FIU led by six when Morgan connected with Anthony Jones for a 3-yard score and hit Tony Gaiter IV for the 2-point conversion and a 35-21 lead just four seconds into the final quarter. The 49ers (4-7, 3-4) pulled within 35-28 on Benny LeMay's 6-yard TD run, but Maxwell pushed the Golden Panthers' lead back to 14 points with his long scoring run at the 7:04 mark. Wide receiver Chris Phillips capped the scoring for Charlotte with a 12-yard TD toss to quarterback Hasaan Klugh to get the 49ers within seven. The 49ers forced a three-and-out, but Dorian Hall picked off Klugh with eight seconds left to preserve the win for FIU.