Panthers defeated by Cyclones in Season Opener

The Panthers faced a devastating loss against the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday, Sept. 2. UNI lost 9-30.
The Panthers faced a devastating loss against the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday, Sept. 2. UNI lost 9-30.

The UNI football team opened their 2023-2024 season against in-state rival Iowa State, in a packed Jack Trice Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Panthers were unable to get much going offensively to start the game, resulting in a 30-9 defeat. 

UNI had the ball to start the game and looked poised in their first few plays. Theo Day threw a pass deep up the middle to Sergio Morancy, who drew a pass interference call on the play, advancing the ball 15 yards. The Panthers were able to gain another 16 yards on their next three plays to find themselves on the Iowa State 44 yard line. 

Iowa State stood their ground and on the very next play Jeremiah Cooper returned an interception 58 yards for a pick six to give the Cyclones the first score of the game. The two teams traded three and outs on their next possessions before Iowa State was able to flip the field on a punt return, setting up a 4th and goal touchdown from Rocco Becht, making the score 14-0 in favor of the Cyclones. 

Tye Edwards breaks a tackle in Ames during the sweltering heat. (STEPH STARK)

Iowa State would go on to score another touchdown in the final minutes of the second quarter as Becht connected with Tyler Moore for a 14-yard score. The point after try (PAT) was unsuccessful after a botched snap, resulting in a 20-0 deficit for the Panthers. 

As UNI took the field again they looked eager to get some points on the board before the end of the first half. With 15 seconds left in the quarter, Day threw his second interception of the game to Cooper which set up the Cyclones with a 56-yard field goal attempt before halftime. Chase Contreaz had the power and distance to give the Cyclones a commanding 23-0 lead over UNI going into the break. 

Iowa State came out of halftime looking to put the game away for good, and did just that by scoring on their opening drive. Becht dropped back and threw a 36-yard pass to Benjamin Brahmer to give the Cyclones a 30-0 lead.

The Panthers were not ready to go home just yet as they were able to score on the very next possession from Matthew Cooks’ 31-yard field goal, resulting in a 30-3 deficit. 

UNI continued to heat up in the second half as Day connected with newcomer Jaiden Ellis-Lahey on a 36-yard pass and tight end Lane Pryor for an 11-yard gain. The Panthers were knocking on the door for their first touchdown of the football season when Desmond Hutson caught a three-yard pass to cut the score to 30-9. 

UNI was able to drive the field one more time before the end of the game, failing to convert on 4th and goal from the five-yard line, effectively ending the contest. 

Theo Day attempts a pass against Iowa State defense. (STEPH STARK)

Despite the lopsided score, the two teams played each other very closely according to the stats of the game. UNI was able to lead in multiple categories including; first downs, 3rd down efficiency, total yards, passing yards, penalty yards, and time of possession. 

Tye Edwards was the leading rusher for the Panthers with 72 yards on 16 carries. Day finished with 16 completions for 164 passing yards and a touchdown. Logan Wolf led the Panthers receiving core with 40 receiving yards on three receptions, while Sam Schnee added 34 yards on four receptions. Punter Noah Pettinger had a career long punt of 54 yards, and newcomer Broderick Calhoun led UNI with seven total tackles. 

The Panthers look to bounce back next week as they take on No.10/13 Weber State for their home opener in the UNI-Dome. The Wildcats are fresh off a victory as they defeated Central Washington 35-10. Tune in to the game live on Panther Sports Network, or listen via radio on the Panther Sports Radio Network. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Northern Iowan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *