CEDAR FALLS – UNI Football battled to the final whistle but fell 23-20 to No. 2 North Dakota State in the season finale Saturday at the UNI-Dome.
The Panther defense again performed well, holding the NDSU to just 155 yards on the ground despite missing several starters on the defensive line. The UNI offense had maybe its best game of the season, putting up 291 yards of offense against one of the best defensive teams in the FCS.
Tyler Hoosman matched his career-high with two touchdowns. He carried the ball 23 times for 70 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
Will McElvain was 14-27 for 193 yards. He found five different receivers on the day. Logan Wolf led the way with 82 yards for the Panthers on four targets, including a 41-yard reception to set up a touchdown.
Matthew Cook hit a pair of field goals in the first half to put UNI up 6-0. He hit a 31-yarder with 11:41 left in the second and a 35-yarder with 3:32 left in the first half.
NDSU’s Christian Watson returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to put the Bison up 10-6. NDSU added a field goal for a 10-6 lead at the half.
The lead grew to 17-6 late in the third with a 36-yard NDSU touchdown throw.
The Panthers found some offensive footing in the fourth when Hoosman leaped into the endzone from a yard out to cut the lead to 17-12.
The Bison extended the lead to 23-12 with 6:17 remaining, but the Panthers weren’t done. McElvain found Deion McShane for a 39-yard completion to the two-yard line that set up another short Hoosman run for a TD with 2:47 remaining. The Panthers cut the score to 23-20 on a two-point conversion, a pass from McElvain to Sam Schnee.
After a failed onside kick attempt, the Panthers forced NDSU to punt and regained the ball with 1:00 to play. UNI could not gain a first down and NDSU clinched the three-point win.
Spencer Cuvelier led the Panther defense with 12 total tackles and Alfonzo Lambert stepped into a starting roll to tally eight tackles and a TFL.
The Panthers close the season with a 3-4 record. All four losses coming against ranked opponents by a combined 15 points. The Panthers accomplished all of this despite losing a pair of All-Americans who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft, two other All-Americans that transferred at the semester to Big Ten schools and another All-American, Bryce Flater, to an injury in game one.
UNI now resets to prepare for the upcoming fall season. The Panthers open the season against Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium on Sept. 4.
Construction on the new football meeting room and the new practice field are scheduled to begin in May with completion before the end of 2021.