Big plays and turnovers rally FIU past UAB 34-20 in C-USA opener

Richard Leonard and Demarkus Perkins returned interceptions for touchdowns as big plays and turnovers helped FIU climb out of an early hole to beat UAB 34-20 in a Conference USA opener on Saturday.

The Panthers (2-3, 1-0) tied a school record, forcing six turnovers, including two pick-sixes. UAB (2-2, 0-1) needed just 84 seconds to take a quick, opening lead and were driving in the second quarter when Leonard picked Jeremiah Briscoe and raced 25 yards to tie, 7-7. Demarkus Perkins also intercepted Briscoe for a 31-yard TD. Briscoe and Cody Clements were each picked off twice.

FIU's Alex McGough completed only 9 of 24 passes for 204 yards — most of those on scoring tosses of 75 and 85 yards to Jonnu Smith and Glenn Coleman.

Smith caught a screen to the left flat and raced 75 yards to give FIU the lead for good at 14-13.