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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Panthers rock Fighting Hawks for Homecoming


The Northern Iowa football team welcomed in the North Dakota Fighting Hawks for their annual Homecoming game. 

The Panthers started with the football, going three and out after Theo Day missed Sergio Morancy down the left sideline. 

After the Fighting Hawks offense picked up a couple first downs, their quarterback fumbled the ball which ended up being recovered by Caden Houghtelling of the Panthers. 

The first play from scrimmage, Amauri Hickson-Pesek hurdled a Fighting Hawks defender for a gain of 17 yards. A few plays later, Day found Desmond Hutson for a gain of twenty yards. As the Panthers approached the red-zone, Hickson-Pesek punched it in with a 14 yard touchdown run to make-it 7-0 Panthers with six minutes to go in the first quarter. 

After the Panthers forced a Fighting Hawks punt, Day once again found Hutson for a gain of 33 yards. Hickson-Pesek kept his momentum going on the ground with back-to-back ten-yard runs down to the Fighting Hawks 14-yard line. The Panthers couldn’t punch it in for six, and ended up settling for a field goal to extend their lead to 10-0 with 11:40 to go in the second quarter. 

It’s just a testament to my teammates and O-line. All week they were believing in me.

— Amauri Hickson-Pesek

The Fighting Hawks offense finally jump started with a run of 17 yards. They eventually found themselves at the Panther 12-yard line due to a facemask penalty that was called against the Panthers. On a crucial third and eight from the redzone, Houghtelling, got to the quarterback for a sack. This led to a Fighting Hawks field goal attempt which was no good. The Panthers maintained their 10-0 lead. 

The Panthers wasted no time on offense after the missed kick, as Day found Morancy deep down the left sideline for a 70-yard touchdown to make it 17-0 Panthers with 3:40 to go in the second quarter. 

The Fighting Hawks tried to get on the board before halftime, but Panthers defensive lineman, Cannon Butler, came up with a crucial sack to force a third down and 25. 

To start the second half, the Fighting Hawks offense went three and out, giving the ball back to the Panthers. Day found Sam Schnee on third down for a 20-yard gain. A couple plays later, Day found Schnee again for a 29-yard gain to the 14 yard line. Day capped off the drive as he found Brady McCullough in the back of the end zone to make it 24-0 Panthers with 9:06 to go in the third quarter. 

The Fighting Hawks went three and out on their next offensive possession thanks to a Butler sack on third and eight. 

Both teams traded punts on their next drives, as the score remained 24-0 throughout the rest of the third quarter. 

At the start of the fourth quarter, The Fighting Hawks were on the verge of their first points of the game as they marched down to the Panther eight yard line. The Panther defense held their own, stopping them on four straight plays to keep the score at 24-0. 

With the Panthers deep in their own territory, Hickson-Pesek rushed for an 18-yard gain. He followed that up later in the drive with a rush of 20 yards. As the Panthers approached midfield,  Day got sacked, forcing the Panthers to punt. 

With 7:19 to go in the fourth, the Fighting Hawks were still looking for their first points of the game. On third down, Panthers cornerback Corry Thomas Jr. came up with an interception to give them the ball back. This led to a Matthew Cook 35-yard field goal to make it 27-0 Panthers. That score would end up being the final. 

Hickson-Pesek was the star of the game on offense, rushing for 180 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s just a testament to my teammates and O-line,” Hickson-Pesek said postgame. “All week they were believing in me.” Saturday marked Hickson-Peseks’ first carries of the entire season. He’s listed as a linebacker, but coach Mark Farley decided early in the week to move him to running back:  “He’s learned the game through playing defense,” said Coach Farley. “He got to go back over to offense and he already knew the playbook before he left.”

This game marked the first time in Panther football history they shut out a top 10 team. They improve to 4-3 on the season and take on the Illinois State Redbirds on Saturday.

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MICHAEL SPAHN, Sports Writer
STEPH STARK, Head Photographer

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