Southern Illinois rallies past UNI, 17-16



UNI falls short of a victory against SIU in Saturday’s game.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

The unrelenting Missouri Valley Football Conference schedule continued this past Saturday as No. 4 UNI met the 10th-ranked Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill. Coming off of two dominating defensive victories against Youngstown State and Illinois State in the previous two weeks, the Panthers were facing a tough road test against a team that had defeated the nation’s No. 1 team North Dakota State by 24 points two weeks ago. Despite a strong start from the Panther defense, the Salukis were able to rally past UNI in the second half en route to a 17-16 victory.

The Panthers shut out their opponents in the first half, leading 13-0 at the break. A Matthew Cook chip- shot field goal from 26 yards out in the first quarter put UNI up 3-0 early on, before another field goal from Cook near the start of the second quarter gave the Panthers a 6-0 lead. Following a Brawntae Wells strip sack and recovery by UNI’s Caleb Hough telling, the Panthers gained possession at Southern’s 23-yard line with just over four minutes left in the half. Running back Tyler Hoosman punched it in to put the visiting Panthers up 13-0 just before the half.

The Southern Illinois offense came to life in the second half as they scored on their first three posses- sions. The Salukis received the ball to start the second half and were able to cut into the UNI lead with a field goal following a six minute, 43 second drive, and soon got the ball back again following a UNI drive that stalled out around mid- field. Trailing by two scores, Southern decided to pull out a trick play, which wound up being a success. Running back Javon Williams, Jr. received a toss in the back-

field, who then aired out a 42-yard bomb to Avante Cox for the touchdown, trimming the Panther lead down to 13-10. Northern Iowa was able to tack on another field goal in the third quarter, but things on the offensive side of the ball remained stagnant while Southern’s offense was waking up.

SIU took possession of the ball to start the fourth quarter and made the most of the trip. A blend of ground-and-pound running mixed with short passing proved to be effective for the Salukis as the UNI defense had no answer. With the drive right at the goal line, the hosts punched it in from three yards out to take the 17-16 lead, following a 12-play, 75 yard possession that took six minutes off the clock.

The Panther defense stepped up, and with two minutes to play UNI got the ball back on their own 11 yard line. Quarterback Will McElvain engineered a drive which brought UNI down to the SIU 12 yard line, with seven seconds left. UNI kicker Matthew Cook, usually a sure thing from this distance, uncharacteristically missed the short field goal which would have won the game. Instead, SIU took over on downs and ran out the clock to secure the 17-16 win.

The UNI offense put up 401 total yards on the day, which is their best showing of the year so far. McElvain was 10-22 with 256 yard passing, and Hoosman led the Panthers in rushing with 77 yards on 18 carries. Deion McShane had 105 yards receiving for UNI.

Up next, the Panthers will return home on Saturday, March 20 against Missouri State. The game is scheduled for a 4 p.m. kickoff in the UNI-Dome.