Panthers take down Coyotes 42-27

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

  A fast-paced, high scoring affair saw UNI take down South Dakota 42-27 on Saturday, Oct. 19 to advance to 4-3 on the season.

A strong offensive attack by both teams lit up the UNI-Dome, including a 189-yard, three touchdown receiving performance from Isaiah Weston and a 111-yard, two touchdown rushing attack by Tyler Hoosman, career highs for both Panther sophomores.

“Our rushing game dictates the entire game,” head coach Mark Farley said.  “If you can run the ball, you can control the tempo of the game. If you can’t, you start to feel pretty one-dimensional, so it keeps you at ease when the rushing game is in control.”

Despite the hard-nosed, grind-it-out reputation of UNI Football, this contest shied away from the ordinary play because of its high-scoring nature. Coming into the game, the Panthers had the 9th-best scoring defense in the FCS, but didn’t maintain that standard in the first quarter, giving up 21 points.

South Dakota was able to score on three of their first five possessions, including a 56-yard bomb from Council Bluffs native Austin Simmons to Billy Conaway in the first quarter. The Purple and Gold had their fair share of big plays as well, including a 62-yard pass from walk-on QB Will McElvain to Weston in the first quarter to set up a rushing touchdown for Hoosman.

“Our passing game definitely countered their passing game early, which really helped our defense settle back down after giving up a couple big plays,” Farley said.

After South Dakota took a 14-7 lead, the ensuing possession saw McElvain break off a 70-yard run following a broken play, only to be tackled just short of the endzone. Hoosman punched it again to knot the score at 14.

The Coyotes took a 24-21 lead into halftime, only to see the momentum shift in favor of the Panthers. Two long touchdown passes from McElvain to Weston, one of 65 yards and the other of 54 yards, helped the Panthers regain and pad the lead, which they wouldn’t give up for the rest of the game.

With his three touchdowns, Weston tied the UNI-Dome record for most touchdowns in a game. South Dakota only saw the endzone in the first quarter as the Panthers limited them to two field goals the rest of the way, sealing the 15- point win.

The Panther defense racked up five sacks, including two from junior defensive tackle Jared Brinkman.  Chris Kolarevic led the linebacking core with a career-high 19 tackles.

The Panthers will hit the road for their next two games against Missouri State and Illinois State before returning to the UNI-Dome on Nov. 9 to take on Indiana State.

Up next, UNI will travel to Springfield, Mo., to face the Missouri State Bears on Saturday, Oct. 26.