Farley notches 150th win as Panthers cruise 34-14

COLIN HORNING, Sports Writer

Although Head Football Coach Mark Farley would’ve liked to earn his 150th career win last weekend against the Cyclones, it’s fitting that the walk-on from Waukon, IA, was able to mark off the historic achievement at the UNI-Dome in a 34-14 win against Southern Utah on Saturday afternoon. 

“Really, the real thought is just the number of people that were a part of the 150, whether it was the players, coaches, people that come up to you that were somehow, some way factored into that,” Farley said. “I mean, you don’t win 150 without a lot of other people. That’s the coolest part. It’s great, and it’s a great school to accomplish this at.”

Reaching his 150th win where it all started bolsters Farley’s resumé as the all-time winningest coach in both UNI’s and the Missouri Valley Conference’s history.  Farley now has the tenth-most wins of all time by an FCS coach. 

Cruising to a 20-point victory over their Big Sky Conference opponent, the Panthers had the game in hand throughout. The Cats got out to a fast start when redshirt freshman quarterback Will McElvain launched a 56-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Deion McShane.  McShane hauled in the catch and appeared to be tackled down, but was able to somersault without going down to stroll into the end zone for the game’s first score, which made Sportcenter’s Top 10 Plays.

Three minutes into the second quarter, McElvain threw another deep pass for a 39-yard touchdown to Isaiah Weston. Following a field goal by Cedar Falls native Matthew Cook, McElvain threw his third touchdown pass of the game to senior receiver Jaylin James to put the Panthers up 24-0 at halftime. The score ballooned to 34-0 in the third quarter with the Thunderbirds scoring two rushing touchdowns to close out the game. 

McElvain improved on his debut against the Cyclones as he went 17-25 for 262 yards and three touchdowns.  The Panthers reviving core had two 100-yard receivers in McShane and Weston totaling 110 and 105 yards respectively with one touchdown each.  It was a balanced attack as the Cats got their rushing attack going with senior running back Trevor Allen, who led all rushers racking up 86 yards and a game-long 24-yard run. 

On the defensive side of the ball, the stout Northern Iowa defense held the Thunderbirds to 227 yards of total offense and 126 passing yards for the entirety of the game. Linebacker Bryce Flater led the Panthers with 13 tackles, followed by fellow linebacker Spencer Cuvelier with 11. Jared Brinkman and Elerson Smith both recorded sacks for UNI, and defensive back Omar Brown had the only interception of the game. Nine penalties hurt the Thunderbirds, including two unsportsmanlike conduct calls, resulting in 74 yards gained for the Purple and Gold.

Up next, the Panthers have a bye week before hosting Idaho State on Sep. 21 with the 2019 UNI Athletics Hall of Fame class being honored during halftime.