Preview: Panthers @ Leathernecks



Vance McShane (20) played well in last week’s loss to Sacramento State. McShane ran the ball 12 times for 84 yards and a touchdown.

BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI football team will look to notch their win of the season as they travel to Macomb, Ill. this weekend for a face off against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. The Panthers are coming off of their third straight loss to start the season. On the bright side for the Panthers, Western Illinois is also coming off their third straight loss. This will be a battle between the two bottom teams in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

The Panthers will look to have a repeat outcome of last year’s game against Western Illinois, where UNI won 41-3. This was UNI’s third straight win against the Leathernecks and the seventh win in the last 10 years. Theo Day had a great game last year throwing for 241 yards and one touchdown. The Panther defense also showed out in the win allowing only three points and forcing five turnovers, returning one for a touchdown. The defense lived in the backfield, holding Western Illinois to negative rushing yards in the game with -46 and racking up 13 sacks. The Panthers, on the other hand, rushed for 237 yards and three touchdowns on the day.

Despite their poor start as a team, quarterback Day has had an excellent start to the season, ranking second in the Missouri Valley in passing yards and ninth in all of FCS. Running back Vance McShane is coming off his best rushing performance of the season, setting season highs in rush attempts, 12, rushing yards, 84 and scoring his first touchdown of the season as well. Receiver Logan Wolf is also coming off a season best performance hauling in four receptions totaling 88 yards and catching his second touchdown of the season on a 24 yard pass. The Panther defense is led by redshirt-senior linebacker Spencer Cuvelier, who tallied a season high number of tackles last weekend with 12 including a forced fumble. UNI’s winless record also doesn’t reflect how well the team has played overall. Although they are last in terms of their record, they are seventh in points scored in the Missouri Valley and eighth in points allowed.

As stated earlier, Western Illinois is also off to a rough start to the season with a 0-3 record. They are led by dual-threat junior quarterback Clay Bruno, who is coming off a game against Southern Utah where he accounted for 304 of the teams total yards as well as the team’s lone touchdown which he ran in from seven yards out late in the fourth quarter. Another bright spot of the Western Illinois offense is wide receiver Naseim Brantley who tallied 116 yards on a season high eight catches. The Western Illinois defense is anchored by junior linebacker Juan Delacruz, who wrapped up 10 total tackles last weekend. The Leathernecks come into this game tied for tenth in the Missouri Valley in both points scored and points allowed.

This game will be an excellent opportunity for the Panthers to get their first win of the season, and should be another great chance for the offense to shine and for the defense to get back on track. The Missouri Valley Conference looks to be a tight race this season and a win this weekend would greatly help to keep UNI in that race. The game will start at 3 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 24 and will be available to watch on ESPN+.