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LIU routed by FIU in coach Jonathan Gill's debut

LIU running back Jonathon DeBique looks for running

LIU running back Jonathon DeBique looks for running room during a game against Saint Francis on Oct. 19, 2019. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

It’s a bit of a Labor Day weekend tradition – Football Bowl Subdivision programs hosting Football Championship Subdivision schools and lighting up the stat sheet. Thursday night, it was Long Island University’s turn. The Sharks, in only their third season as a Division I program, fell hard to host Florida International University, 48-10, in the season opener.

FIU’s D’vonte Price rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns on five carries. Quarterback Max Bortenschlager threw for 266 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 14-of-17 passing. LIU quarterback Camden Orth threw for 197 yards and a touchdown on 15-of-30 passing and Westbury native Derick Eugene caught seven passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

FIU (1-0), who was 0-5 last year, had not won since Nov. 23, 2019, when they beat Miami. LIU (0-1) played in the spring and finished 2-2, their first victories as a Division I program. But they were clearly not in FIU’s class Thursday night.

The game marked the debut of Jonathan Gill as LIU’s interim head coach. Gill, who has been as assistant at the school for 15 years, took over for Bryan Collins, who stepped down in June after 23 seasons at the helm. Collins is now the defensive line coach at Stony Brook.

FIU is led by former Cleveland Browns and University of Miami head coach Butch Davis.

LIU fell behind fast. Price scored the first two touchdowns of the game, an 8-yard run with 13:55 left in the first quarter and a 68-yard run with 4:52 left that gave FIU a 14-0 lead after an extra point. Price, who rushed for 137 yards in the first quarter, scored again with 5:47 left in the second quarter, this time a 28-yard run that gave FIU a 27-0 lead.

LIU’s offense looked promising on its first drive, but then stalled for the majority of the night. After FIU opened with a quick touchdown, the Sharks drove 58 yards on 14 plays in 8:35 but missed a field goal.

The Sharks showed signs of a potential comeback late in the first half. Orth’s 74-yard touchdown pass to Eugene, followed by an extra point, cut the lead to 28-7. On FIU’s next drive, Sharks defensive back Tariq Snead intercepted Bortenschlager at the LIU 35-yard line and returned it 33 yards to the FIU 32 with 2:20 left in the first half.

But despite a very short field, LIU could only muster a field goal and FIU led 28-10 at the half.

LIU will continue their tour of the Football Bowl Subdivision with games at West Virginia and Miami (Ohio) in the next two weeks. They play their first home game Oct. 16 against Merrimack, who they beat in the spring season finale in March.

New York Sports