It’s said that teams that play in South Florida are “playing in paradise”.
But nothing screams paradise more than the picturesque backdrops of the Bahamas.
In what should be described as a working vacation, Florida International University used three Anthony Jones touchdowns to secure a 35-32 victory over Toledo in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
The victory Friday was FIU’s ninth of the season, setting a new school record for wins in a single season. It was also the Panthers’ second ever bowl win, once again coming at the expense of Toledo – with the team’s first bowl victory in the 2010 Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl.
Jones had one of his best games as a Panther on the ground, finding the endzone three times, while earning 92 yards rushing. FIU’s Christian Alexander earned his first career start in the bowl game, replacing the injured James Morgan at quarterback. Alexander finished the game going 17-of-26 for 209 yards and one touchdown. Alexander also rushed for 83 yards on the ground. Edwin Freeman led the Panthers on defense, racking up eight tackles.
Toledo jumped out to a 10-0 start following a miscue on the opening kickoff that led to a touchdown and a first quarter field goal. The Panther responded however in the second quarter, as FIU scored twice to take a 14-10 lead before the break. FIU’s Jones punched in the first Panther touchdown from six yards out, while Christian Alexander found Sterling Palmer open down the seam for a 36-yard score.
Toledo would retake the lead coming out of the locker room, as the Rockets marched 75 yards down the field to score on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Eli Peters to Jon’ Vea Johnson. Jones sped by the Rockets’ defense to put FIU back out in front, as the running back raced 30 yards up the middle to put the Panthers up 21-17 nearing the fourth quarter.
The Panthers pushed their lead to a commanding 28-17 early in the fourth quarter, after Maurice Alexander’s jet sweep around the edge went 16 yards for a touchdown. The Rockets quickly trimmed eight points from the deficit however, as Toledo marched 75 yards in only 3:51 to score on a short touchdown pass followed by a successful two-point conversion.
A bowl victory and a comeback story for the ages was sealed with 41 seconds left when Jones scampered for 18 yards and his third rushing touchdown on the day. Toledo added a Hail Mary touchdown in the final seconds but was unable to recover the onside kick before FIU ran out the clock.