Panthers down Redbirds 20-10

The Panthers host Redbirds and come out of top in Saturday’s game.

NICHOLAS SCHINDLER

The UNI football team was back in action for its third game of the season this past Saturday as they hosted the Illinois State Redbirds in the UNI-Dome. UNI came into the game 1-1 on the year and were coming off of an impressive 21-0 victory on the road against Youngstown State the week before. Illinois State had only played one game so far this season and went into the game 0-1. The game was a matchup of two FCS top-25 teams as UNI was ranked third in the country and Illinois State was ranked 15th.

The Panthers started off the game with the football and drove right down the field, scoring in a little over three minutes on a six-play drive to take the lead 7-0.  Quarterback Will MacElvain ran it in from 11 yards out, and kicker Matthew Cook hit the extra point to seal the 7-0 lead. The Panthers then stopped the Redbirds on defense to retake possession of the ball, which again led to points on the board. The eight-play, 50 yard drive ended in a Cook 43-yard field goal to put UNI up 10-0 early on. 

The Redbirds came marching back on the next possession, however. They went on a 14 play, 49 yards drive that took over seven minutes of time up off the clock, but in the end the Panther defense held, forcing Illinois State to settle for a 43-yard field goal by kicker Aidan Bresnahan, cutting into the UNI lead at 10-3. Both teams traded punts for a few possessions before Illinois State’s Kenton Wilhoit intercepted McElvain’s pass and ran it back to the end zone with a little over two minutes left to play. The Illinois State University pick-six knotted up the score at 10, which would be the score as both teams headed into the locker room for halftime.   

The third quarter saw no points put up by either team as the score remained tied at 10 going into the final quarter of play. UNI’s first possession of the fourth got the ball moving. Following a seven-play, 60 yard drive that took about three minutes, the Panthers took the lead with a long 44-yard field goal from Cook to go up by a score of 13-10.  UNI would not look back after taking that lead. The Redbirds had no answer for UNI’s elite defense and they didn’t score the rest of the game.

UNI ended up scoring another touchdown with three minutes left to play on a thirteen yard scamper from running back Tyler Hoosman which pushed the score to 20-10. This ended up being the final of the game.

A fantastic defense and solid special teams for the Panthers was the key in this one. They didn’t allow an offensive touchdown for the second straight game and Matthew Cook was phenomenal on Saturday.

The Panthers travel to Carbondale, Illinois to play Southern Illinois next Saturday, March 13th. Southern Illinois is 3-1 on the season and coming off a high scoring win against Younstown state. They return home to the UNI-Dome on March 20th to play against Missouri State.