Air Force jets past Panthers, 48-17



Quarterback Theo Day completed 20 of his 32 pass attempts for 286 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in UNI’s 48-17 loss to Air Force.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

The UNI football season kicked off this past Saturday as the Panthers traveled to Colorado Springs, Colo. to match up with the Falcons of the United States Air Force Academy. The matchup was no doubt a tough one to start off the season for UNI, as Air Force was coming off of a 10-win season a year ago and returned most of the starters from their offense. A combination of the unusual triple-option attack and the Colorado altitude proved to be too much for the Panthers as the Falcons easily took care of their opponents in a 31 point rout. 

The first strike for Air Force came with about 9:30 left in the first quarter, as quarterback Hazziq Daniels found wideout Dane Kinamon for an 80-yard touchdown pass, uncharacteristic of the normal running approach from the Falcons. The Panthers had success moving the ball on the ensuing possession, but were stopped short of the endzone and settled for a Matthew Cook field goal from 28 yards out. 

The next possession led to another big play for the Falcons, this time only two plays into the drive. Kinamon again broke free, this time on a run play, for 71 yards to the house to put Air Force up 14-3. They tacked on two field goals and another touchdown run from Daniels before the half, taking a 27-3 lead into the break. 

The second half of this contest was much of the same. Falcon fullback Brad Roberts broke off a 71-yard touchdown run less than a minute into the second half, and with the UNI offense struggling to get anything going it looked to be all Air Force. Just before the end of the third, Jensen Jones of Air Force punched in a one-yard touchdown following a 17-play, 96-yard drive. Near the start of the fourth quarter, Jalen Johnson of Air Force broke off an 80-yard touchdown run to put them up 48-3.

UNI quarterback Theo Day found Logan Wolf for a 10 yard score and Sergio Morancy from 14 yards on the next possession to inch the Panthers closer at 48-17. This proved to be all UNI could muster as it held as the final score. 

Day had a decent performance for UNI, going 20 of 32 for two touchdowns and one interception. Deion McShane led UNI with six catches for 106 yards, and Korby Sander led the defensive unit with 11 total tackles. Roberts led the Falcons with 114 yards rushing and one  touchdown on just eight carries, while Daniels wasn’t far off with 111 rushing yards and one touchdown of his own. Overall Air Force put up 595 yards rushing with just 109 passing yards, the majority of which came on the 80-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

The Panthers will travel to Grand Forks, N.D. next week for an early-season Missouri Valley Football Conference matchup with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m., and can be viewed on ESPN+. Their home opener will be on Saturday, Sept. 17 against Sacramento State. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m.