No. 6 South Dakota goes down

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WILLIAM RIEPE, Sports Writer

The Panthers took on a 7-1 South Dakota football team this weekend at the UNI- Dome. A poor first half left the Panthers trailing early, something that has spelled disaster for the team regularly this season.

However, a fourth quarter defensive effort held South Dakota to only six points on some important drives. This allowed the Panthers’ offense to come back and finish the game 34-29.

This score line does not reflect the performances by both teams in the slightest.The Panthers were dominated offensively, and South Dakota’s yard totals almost doubled that of the Panthers (490-283).

The game was decided by turnovers, and for the third time in four weeks, quarterback Eli Dunne did not throw a single interception and enjoyed decent completion percentages.

Dunne was sacked four times and hit three this game. 

Marcus Weymiller found success running the football; he got in the endzone five times in his last four games and totaling 470 yards from the scrimmage. Weymiller’s ability as a pass catching back is questionable, as his targets are some of the lowest on the team.

His talent commanding the backfield is undeniable, giving the Panthers the lead late into the fourth quarter by capitalizing on a turnover, running the ball eight yards for the touchdown.

There is much to look forward to from Weymiller and Dunne, as they are both only juniors and will be returning next year.

Defensively, the Panthers struggled, giving up over 500 yards from scrimmage and only finding one sack, allowing quarterback Chris Streveler to throw for 401 yards and two touchdowns.

At the beginning of the season, the Panthers secondary said they were, “ready for anything” and proved just that on Saturday, picking off Streveler twice. These two interceptions sealed the game for the Panthers, shutting down a late game push to tie the game.

Neal Rickey has emerged as a defensive hero for the Panthers, after not starting the first two games of the season and receiving limited snaps for the first four games.

Rickey has set the conference on fire, averaging over one sack a game over the last five games and racking up 12 tackles for loss over the last five games.

Rickey made an immediate impact on Saturday, grabbing the Panthers’ only sack of the day, as well as forcing a fumble and recovering it himself. Rickey, a junior, will definitely be an important defensive weapon for this season and the following.

South Dakota proved to be a good team, but the Panthers played flawlessly in the second half, earning back the lead from a deficit and holding South Dakota to a late touchdown. 

Next week, the Panthers will travel to Springfield, Missouri to take on a struggling Missouri State team. With Weymiller and Rickey leading the team, they have a decent chance of winning. As long as turnovers aren’t excessive, and players keep stepping up for big individual performances, the Panthers should come out on top.

This game takes place on Nov. 11, and kick off is set for 2 p.m. in Springfield.