Panthers cut down Syacamores, 20-14

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
  • Theo Day (12) celebrates after running in a touchdown to open the scoring on Saturday. Day also added a touchdown pass to his total.

  • Benny Sapp III intercepts a pass to seal the win for UNI. The Panthers have improved to 2-3 after losing their first three games of the season.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right

ADAM JOHNSON, Sports Writer

UNI football went up against Indiana State on Saturday, Oct. 1. Coming off of a victory last week against Western Illinois, the Panthers were looking to continue that success and get their first home win of the season. Great defense and a strong performance in the run game helped the Panthers grab their first home victory in a close one, 20-14.

The Panthers would receive the ball to start the game, and looked to jump ahead early against the Sycamores. The opening drive was not looking promising, as the Panthers found themselves looking at a third and 15. However, quarterback Theo Day was able to find Sam Schnee for 16 yards, and that got the Panthers going. The Panthers made several big plays to make their way down the field, and Day took matters into his own hands on a six-yard touchdown run to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead.

Indiana State’s offense controlled the ball for a long period of time following the Panthers opening drive. The Sycamores got the ball with 11:19 left in the first, and after a long 18-play drive that included a fourth down conversion and several third down conversions, Ryan O’Grady made a 30-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.

The Panthers next drive started well, as they found themselves at the Indiana State 27 yard line. Day got sacked on back-to-back plays, and UNI found themselves looking at third and 31. Following both of the sacks, Day was intercepted by Rylan Cole, who returned it all the way to the Panthers 40-yard line.

With the great field position, the Sycamores would make it all the way to the two-yard line, but a sack by Edwin Dearma caused a 30-yard field goal by Indiana State. The kick was no good, and the Panthers maintained their 7-3 lead. UNI would make their way down the field, and get a field goal to put the game at 10-3 going into the half.

Indiana State received the second half kickoff, but UNI got it back quickly. The Panthers capitalized as their drive ended with Day throwing an 18-yard strike to Alex Allen in the endzone. This extended the lead to 17-3.

Indiana State was able to get a field goal, and then recovered an onside kick. This gave them the ball with a chance to get it closer down 17-6, but a missed field goal following the recovery would keep the score right where it was.

The Sycamores would get it back and finally get into the endzone on a 20-yard run by Dawson Basinger. A successful two point try followed, and the Panthers saw their lead narrow to 17-14. UNI got it back with 7:44 left in the game, and put together a long drive that eventually ended in a field goal with 1:44 left. With a 20-14 lead, the Panthers defense needed to step up to finish the game. Indiana State struggled early in the drive and found themselves with a fourth and 9 at their own 26-yard line. It was make or break for the Sycamores, and on fourth down they managed to stay alive. Quarterback Gavin Screws found Harry Van Dyne for 17 yards and the first down. This was just delaying the inevitable for Indiana State though, as on a fourth and 13, UNI’s Benny Sapp III came through with a big interception with just 39 seconds left in the game. 

The pick sealed the game for the Panthers, and they ended this one in the victory formation, when Day went down to a knee on the last play of the game. The Panthers picked up the victory, 20-14.

The Panthers are winners of two in a row, after starting the season 0-3. With three straight home games in front of them, they will look to add to this now two game winning streak. The Panthers will have their homecoming game against Illinois State next weekend, on Saturday, Oct. 8. Game time will be at 4 p.m. and this will be the annual Homecoming football game, capping off a week full of activities. NFL great and UNI grad Kurt Warner will be back on campus for the parade.