MIAMI – The nation was still reeling from the assassination of President John F. Kennedy less than a year earlier the last time Indiana had won a football game in Florida. Check that off the list for the Hoosiers.
Indiana scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 34-13 win Thursday night at Florida International in the season opener for both teams.
The game marked Indiana's first win in Florida since a 28-14 victory at Miami in October 1964. It was Indiana's first trip to the Sunshine State since a 14-7 loss to the Hurricanes at the old Miami Orange Bowl in 1966.
FIU junior quarterback Alex McGough threw for 263 yards, but he also threw three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
"We had way too many missed opportunities, and obviously the turnovers," FIU head coach Ron Turner said.
McGough drove the Panthers down the field on the first series of the game. The drive was extended after McGough took a punishing hit that knocked his helmet off and drew a facemask penalty by Indiana junior linebacker Tegray Scales.
He led the Panthers to the Indiana 11-yard line, but FIU ultimately settled for a 24-yard field goal by senior kicker Austin Taylor to take a 3-0 lead.
Indiana punted the ball away on its first possession but forced the Panthers deep into their own territory. FIU senior right guard Trenton Saunders was called for a holding penalty with the Panthers at their own 1-yard line, giving the Hoosiers a safety.
The Hoosiers got the ball back and took their first lead on a 22-yard field goal by junior Griffin Oakes.
Indiana junior quarterback Richard Lagow got the Hoosiers all the way to the FIU 9-yard line, but Oakes' 26-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right.
Two plays later, Indiana junior cornerback Rashard Fant intercepted McGough's pass, returning the ball 34 yards for a touchdown.
FIU put together a seven-play, 56-yard scoring drive that was capped off by junior running back Alex Gardner's 1-yard scamper into the end zone, trimming Indiana's lead, 12-10, heading into halftime.
The Panthers regained the lead with eight seconds left in the third quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Taylor, but that was as close as it got.
Indiana held the Panthers to 63 rushing yards, while the Hoosiers amassed 246 yards on the ground.
Turner, who fell to 5-5 against Indiana dating to his days at Illinois, said he was disappointed in the outcome.
"You've got to take advantage of opportunities when you have them, and they did and we didn't," Turner said. "So it's one game. We've got 11 more. We know we've got a chance to be a good football team, but we've got things we've got to get corrected. We will get them corrected and, you know, we'll bounce back from it."
Indiana was without six players against FIU.
Prior to kickoff, the school announced that Jake Attar, Simmie Cobbs Jr., Chase Dutra, Ralph Green III and Noel Padmore would be suspended for the season opener "for not living up to their responsibilities to the program at different times since the conclusion of the 2015 season." Sophomore defensive back Wesley Green was also suspended indefinitely.