CEDAR FALLS – In their first MVFC game of the season against the Youngstown State Penguins the (#17) UNI football team won 34-7. The Panthers strong defensive presence kept the Penguins from scoring until late in the 4th quarter.
While the game began with two defensive stops, the Panthers’ offense quickly found its rhythm scoring 10 points in the 1st quarter. The Panther defense stifled Youngstown State, only allowing 52 rushing yards and making 73 tackles with 8 of those tackles for a loss. Spencer Cuvelier led the way for UNI’s defense with 17 tackles and 2.5 for a loss. The Panther defense also forced 2 turnovers a fumble in the 2nd and an interception 3rd.
The Panther offense shined against the Penguins with 388 yards of offense. Starting quarterback Theo Day had 188 yards passing with 2 touchdowns. Day completed 11 of 16 attempted passes while having 1 interception. Dom Williams led the team in rushing yards with 119 on the day on 11 carries with 1 touchdown. Quan Hampton had 4 catches for 59 yards while Isaiah Weston had 2 catches for 45 yards and 1 touchdown.
Q1: Both teams started the game with defensive stops. After pinning Youngstown State at their 3rd-yard line, the Panthers had field position just behind the 50-yard line off a 46-yard punt. On the second play of the drive, starting quarterback Theo Day threw a pass down the middle to Vance McShane who ran 50 yards down the right side of the field for a UNI touchdown putting the Panthers up 7-0. UNI’s next drive would end in a Matthew Cook 44-yard field goal after the Panthers drove for 46 yards, ending in a 10-0 score. The Panthers would end the quarter with the ball after completing 7 rushes for 42 yards. Theo Day completed 5 out of 8 passing attempts for 92 yards. Four players would combine for 12 total tackles.
Q2: The Panthers began the quarter with the ball but would be unable to convert on 3rd and 13 before turning the ball over to the Penguins. The Penguins would drive to the Panthers 42-yard line but would be unable to complete on 4th and 2, turning the ball over on downs. The Panthers would then score on their first play of the second drive with a 58-yard rush down the left side from Dom Williams. Matthew Cook would make the extra point to put the Panthers up 17-0. The Panther defense would make a key play 7 minutes before the half, as Jared Brinkman recovered a Youngstown State fumble at the 46-yard line. Running back Bradrick Shaw would make a 30-yard rush to give the Panthers another touchdown, bringing the score to 24-0. UNI would end the half with a Theo Day pass to Isaiah Weston for a 24-yard touchdown making the score at the half 31-0. Through two quarters the Panthers totaled 173 yards rushing and 147 receiving yards. The defense combined for 25 total tackles including two and a half tackles for a loss.
Q3: The second half began with the Penguins receiving the ball, making a 5-play drive to the 50-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Panther kicker Matthew Cook would then kick a 38-yard field goal after the offense was unable to convert on 3rd and 18 bringing the lead to 34. The Panther defense would make another big play in the 3rd quarter when Riley Van Whye intercepted a Youngstown State pass. But the Penguins would intercept the ball right back as Grant Dixon picked off a Theo Day pass intended for Quan Hampton. The Panthers last drive of the game would be stalled by two separate unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by offensive linemen. The Panthers offense had 18 rushing yards in the quarter while Theo Day completed 3 of 4 passes for 41 yards. UNI’s defense had 13 total tackles through 15 minutes.
Q4: The Panther defense would make up for the lost interception in the 3rd quarter 4 minutes into the fourth when Eric Mooney picked off a pass from Penguins quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw at the 50-yard line. The Penguins would eventually find the red zone in the last couple minutes of the quarter as Jorge Portorreal ran into the end zone for Youngstown State’s only touchdown of the game. The Panthers would beat the Penguins 34-7.
The Panthers hit the road to take on the North Dakota State Bison on Saturday, October 9th in Fargo, North Dakota. The Bison lead the MVFC having not lost a game so far this season, including a conference win against North Dakota this afternoon. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.