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Playoff hopes alive as Panthers beat Redbirds

Marcus+Weymiller+%28above-right%29+prepares+to+shake+off+a+tackle+during+the+Panthers%27+26-16+win+over+the+Illinois+State+Redbirds+on+Nov.+3.
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Playoff hopes alive as Panthers beat Redbirds

Marcus Weymiller (above-right) prepares to shake off a tackle during the Panthers' 26-16 win over the Illinois State Redbirds on Nov. 3.

Marcus Weymiller (above-right) prepares to shake off a tackle during the Panthers' 26-16 win over the Illinois State Redbirds on Nov. 3.

GABRIELLE LEITNER

Marcus Weymiller (above-right) prepares to shake off a tackle during the Panthers' 26-16 win over the Illinois State Redbirds on Nov. 3.

GABRIELLE LEITNER

GABRIELLE LEITNER

Marcus Weymiller (above-right) prepares to shake off a tackle during the Panthers' 26-16 win over the Illinois State Redbirds on Nov. 3.

PATRICK HANSEN, Sports Writer

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The stands were packed for Family Weekend as the Panthers (5-4) hosted the Illinois State Redbirds (5-4). Fans rejoiced to see the Panther offense and defense work in perfect harmony as they walked over the Redbirds with a final score of 26-16.

This was UNI’s first time hosting Illinois State since the 42-28 victory in 2014. A win on Saturday carried potential Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff implications for the victor of the game.

The game started out slow as both teams could only cough up a field goal on their first drive, starting the score out at 3-3. The remainder of the first quarter stayed consistent with neither teams cracking the scoreboard.

The second quarter was big for the Panthers as the senior place kicker Austin Errthum notched three more field goals to extend the lead to 12-3. With three minutes remaining in the half, senior linebacker Duncan Ferch recorded his fourth-career pick-six, which tied the school record.

Things in the second half started off fairly slow until running back Marcus Weymiller scored on a 14-yard rush extending the Panther lead to 26-3 with 10:54 left in the third quarter.

From there, the game stayed quiet until the fourth quarter, when the Redbirds scored on back-to-back drives to reduce the Panther lead to ten points.

However, it was too late for the Redbirds, as the score held at 26-16 and the Panthers notched their fifth win of the season.

The UNI offense finished the game with 19 first downs, nine of which came from third down conversions. They had a  total of 387 yards on 73 plays.

Quarterback Eli Dunne had a great game throwing the ball, completing 17 of 32 passes for a total of 262 yards with just one interception.

On the ground, Weymiler ran for 109 yards in 30 carries and also one touchdown. Wide receiver Briley Moore caught four receptions for 76 yards, while Jaylin James also had four receptions for 43 yards.

On defense, Korby Sander led the way with four solo tackles, six assists and ten total tackles with an interception return of 31 yards, followed by Blake Thomas with eight total tackles.

Collectively, the Panther defense was outstanding as they recorded three total sacks and ten tackles for loss. UNI also held the Redbirds to only 75 yards of total offense going into the final quarter. The Panthers only allowed Illinois State to convert on third down once out of 11 attempts.

Next week, the Panthers will travel out to Youngstown, Ohio to take on the Youngstown State Penguins (3-6). UNI will then return to the Dome on Saturday, Nov. 17 for the final home and regular season game of the year against the Missouri State Bears (4-5).

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Playoff hopes alive as Panthers beat Redbirds