UNI preps for homecoming game vs. Youngstown State

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UNI Athletics

UNI quarterback Theo Daly has lead the Panthers to two victories so far this season. He will be back to add a third on Saturday against Youngstown State.

DAVID WARRINGTON

In a year full of canceled events and adjusted schedules, homecoming was no different at the University of Northern Iowa in 2020. With the cancellation of the fall football season also came the cancellation of the homecoming football game, which is usually the culmination of a week full of events and activities. However, fall football is back in 2021, and so is the homecoming game. The UNI Panthers football team will compete in the 2021 homecoming football game this coming Saturday against the Youngstown State University Penguins. This will also be the first game of the Missouri Valley Football Conference portion of their schedule.

The Panthers enter this game with a record of 2-1 on the season and are coming off of a bye week the previous week. After losing a close game to Iowa State in the season opener, the Panthers took down Sacramento State in week two before dominating St. Thomas in week three, winning by a score of 44-3.

UNI football head coach Mark Farley said that the early, non-conference portion of the season was very important for seeing what kind of players UNI has with some of their new additions to the team. 

“What happened this year is the three non-conference games gave us a good awareness of what we have and what we need to get better at,” said Farley. “We found out about our players that are new to our program, particularly the running backs and the quarterbacks.”

Youngstown State enters the game with a record of 1-2 on the year, picking up an overtime win over Incarnate Word before falling to Michigan State and Western Illinois. Through these three games, the Penguins have averaged 31 points per game, while UNI has averaged 29.3.

Offensively, the Penguins are led by their ground attack. Two different running backs, Jaleel McLaughlin and Demeatric Crenshaw, have found the end zone five times on the ground. They have also accounted for 412 and 284 rushing yards respectively. 

“Youngstown has been putting up some serious points on everybody,” said Farley. “Offensively, when you read the numbers, the quarterback and tailback are doing an outstanding job of putting up big numbers, particularly in the rushing game. Defensively, they’re very fast. They’ll challenge you, and they can run with you.”

This will also be the second career start at quarterback for Theo Day. Day, a sophomore who previously played at Michigan State, came in to start the second half against Sacramento State. After a sluggish first half offensively, Day led the Panthers to a 27 point third quarter and ultimately a 34-16 win. After a dominant win two weeks ago against St. Thomas, Day seems to have secured his spot as the number one quarterback, at least for the time being.

These two teams have a lengthy history dating back to 1978. Since that time they have met on the football field 33 times, with the Panthers winning 24 of those matchups, losing only nine. The Panthers have won the last two against the Penguins, picking up a 21-14 Homecoming win in 2019 as well as a 21-0 win in the spring season earlier this year.

The Panthers will look to improve to 3-1 on the season and start 1-0 in conference play this Saturday when they take the field in front of a packed crowd in the UNI-Dome for the first Homecoming game in two years. The game is scheduled to kickoff at 4 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN+.