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College Football: UNI edged out by North Dakota in MVFC season opener, 29-27

CEDAR FALLS – Three Panthers had more than 100 yards of offense, but North Dakota was still able to edge out UNI football in the MVFC season opener, 29-27.

Dom Williams had his first 100+ yard rushing game of the year with 103 yards while Deion McShane and Sam Schnee had 157 yards and 109 yards in receiving yards, respectively.

UNI is now 0-2 overall / 0-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. North Dakota improves to 1-1 and 1-0 in the MVFC.

In all, UNI racked up the exact same number of offensive yards as UND with 449 yards.

Defensively, UNI was led by Spencer Cuvelier with 10 tackles, including a sack that pushed UND quarterback Tommy Schuster back 16 yards.

It was head coach Mark Farley’s first trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and the league opener for both teams. It was the earliest matchup in MVFC in more than 10 seasons (since 2010). On Sept. 11, 2010, #13 UNI hosted and beat #21 NDSU in the UNI-Dome, 16-9.

Farley, in his 22nd year at UNI is now 14-8 in MVFC openers, winning five of the last seven years. He’s 6-7 on the road in season openers.

IN THE RANKINGS

The Panthers opened the season No. 21 in the preseason rankings. The latest Stats Perform and coaches poll lists UNI at No. 24, and North Dakota was receiving votes.

The MVFC has three of the nation’s top-five ranked schools, including No. 1 North Dakota State, No. 2 South Dakota State and No. 5 Missouri State. Southern Illinois and UNI also are ranked again this week, while South Dakota and North Dakota are receiving votes.

The last time the league had three teams in the top five was on March 8, 2021, when UND (3), UNI (4) and NDSU (5) represented the league. Prior to that, the conference accomplished the feat on Sept. 25, 2017, with NDSU (2), SDSU (4), and Youngstown State (5).

SCOUTING UND

The Fighting Hawks’ head coach, Bubba Schweigert, is in his ninth year. He holds a 70-62 career record and 48-41 record at North Dakota. This was Schweigert’s first meeting against UNI.

UNI continues to lead the series, 24-14. In Grand Forks, UNI leads 10-8. The Panthers lead 14-6 when hosting UND. The teams’ first meeting was in 1936. UND won the last meeting in 2006, 35-17. Prior to that, the teams had not met since 1978, which UNI won 35-17.

Q1 | UND bolted out of the gates with a four-play drive that put the Fighting Hawks into the end zone in just 1 minute, 23 seconds. The Fighting Hawks scored on a three-yard pass from Tommy Schuster to Adam Zavalney. UNI’s Matthew Cook narrowed the scoring gap with a 22-yard field goal as time ran out in the first. UND led 7-3 to close out the opening quarter.

Q2 | The Panthers took the first lead of the season and game with a rush up the middle from Dom Williams. He ran for 41 yards to put UNI up 10-7 and provide the only score from either team in the first half.

Q3 | UNI went 70 yards in seven plays before UND called a timeout and came back to make keep Dom Williams to just a one-yard gain. Theo Day was sacked for the first time in the game on the next play and was unable to connect with Quan Hampton in the end zone, bringing up another Cook field goal. Cook was good from 29 yards out and put UNI up 13-7 with 11:27 left in the quarter. UND responded with a touchdown of its own. Schuster found Bo Belquist on a 39-yard pass to give the Fighting Hawks the 14-13 lead.

Q4 | UND opened the quarter on UNI’s six-yard line and handed the ball to Tyler Hoosman, who put UND up 20-13. UND opted for the two-point conversion. Schuster kept the ball to put UND up 22-13. UNI got two big back-to-back plays with a 22-yard pass to Deion McShane who set up Dom Williams for a 47-yard run for his second touchdown of the game. UNI closed the gap 22-20. UND’s Tyler Hoosman broke loose for a 46-yard run to set up the Fighting Hawks on UNI’s six-yard line. Schuster kept the ball and ran it in to go up 29-20. It took just one play for UNI to get back into reach. Theo Day found Deion McShane on a 72-yarder to put UNI back within two points, 29-27.

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