Panthers dominate Leathernecks, 52-17



Dom Williams (7) runs with the football during UNI’s 52-17 victory over Western Illinois on Saturday. Williams carried the ball 14 times for 69 yards and a touchdown.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

The UNI football team bounced back in a big way in Macomb, Ill. this past Saturday as they trounced the Leathernecks of Western Illinois 52-17. Both teams came into the matchup with 0-3 records and were looking to get into the win column for the first time this season. The Panthers were coming off a 37-21 loss at the hands of Sacramento State in their home opener at the UNI-Dome last Saturday while WIU was coming off a 17-10 defeat to Southern Utah the previous week. 

Neither team managed to score in the first quarter. Western Illinois came close, but UNI safety Benny Sapp III intercepted WIU quarterback Clay Bruno at the goal line. In the second quarter the UNI offense came alive. Following a nine-play, 73-yard drive, Panther quarterback Theo Day found wide receiver Quan Hampton for a six-yard touchdown early on in the second, the first of two touchdowns in the game for Hampton. UNI running back Dom Williams capped off another long 75-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run with about four minutes remaining in the second quarter, and kicker Matthew Cook connected on a 34-yard field goal just before halftime to extend the UNI lead to 17-3 at the break. 

The third quarter in this contest was all about UNI defensive back Woo Governor. With the Panthers leading 24-10 about midway through the quarter, Governor intercepted a pass from Leatherneck quarterback Bruno and took it 43 yards to the house for a touchdown. Just three plays into the next WIU possession, Governor again intercepted Bruno and brought it back for a score, this time a 49 yard return. UNI led 38-10 going into the final frame.

The Panthers added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one being a four-yard pass from Day to Desmond Hutson and the other a four-yard run from Harrison Bey-Buie. Western Illinois tallied a touchdown with 37 seconds remaining, but the game was already well out of hand as the Panthers won with a 52-17 final score. 

UNI put up a stellar 468 yards of total offense, with a balanced attack of 271 yards through the air and 197 yards on the ground. They had 28 first downs as opposed to 19 from WIU and converted seven of 12 third downs as opposed to just three of 12 from their opponents. 

Day had a solid game with 23-29 passing and three touchdowns, along with zero interceptions. Williams ran the ball 14 times for 70 yards and a touchdown, while Sam Schnee led UNI in receiving yards with 70 on four catches. Edwin Dearman led the Panthers with nine tackles on the defensive side and Devin Rice recorded his first two sacks of the year. For WIU, Bruno was 15-29 with 166 yards and one touchdown, along with three interceptions thrown. 

The win puts the Panthers at 1-3 overall on the season and 1-1 in Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) play while Western Illinois falls to 0-4 on the season and 0-1 in MVFC play. UNI moves to 35-16 all-time against Western Illinois and recorded their fourth consecutive victory over the Leathernecks. The Panthers will return home for a long homestand as they will play their next four games at the UNI-Dome, starting with Indiana State on Oct. 1. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and fans are encouraged to wear black for the Blackout game.