CEDAR FALLS – Critical stops in the fourth quarter by the Panther defense helped turn the tide as UNI grabbed its second consecutive victory of the season, and its first in Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) on Saturday in a 44-41 win over No. 23/19 Youngstown State inside the UNI-Dome.
The victory marks the 60th top-25 victory for the Panthers under head coach Mark Farley and 94th such win in program history. UNI also improves to 15-6 under Farley off its bye week.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Youngstown State opened the game with the ball, launching a 61-yard pass down field from Mitch Davidson to Bryce Oliver. UNI’s defense would hold on the game’s opening possession as the Penguins were held to a 38-yard field goal. YSU capitalized on a three-and-out by the Panthers on their first drive, scoring on a nine play, 59-yard drive with Davidson scoring on a six-yard run to give the Penguins an early 10-0 lead.
UNI would bounce back and get on the board as Theo Day connected with Layne Pryor on a 13-yard scoring reception, Pryor’s first touchdown of the season. The Panthers’ first score of the day would be set up by a career-long catch by Jaiden Ellis-Lahey of 40 yards.
A quick three-and-out forced by the UNI defense brought Day and the offense back onto the field for another shot at the end zone. Thanks to a 40-yard run by Tye Edwards, the Panthers drove 73 yards in just six plays with Ellis-Lahey scoring his first career touchdown on a two-yard pass by Day. UNI pounced on the game’s first turnover on the following drive as Jahsiah Galvan snagged his first career interception, setting up a 32-yard touchdown reception by Naran Butin, the first of his career. The Panthers would take a 20-13 lead into the halftime break after a late second quarter field goal by the Penguins of 38 yards.
The Panthers opened the second half with an offensive drive that saw Sam Schnee snag a 22-yard reception as well as a 34-yard reception from Buntin. The drive ended in Matthew Cook’s first field goal of the afternoon from 40 yards.
UNI’s defense came out and forced a three-and-out and got the ball back after a punt. The Youngstown State defense came out big and forced a three and out from the Panther offense and went on to block the punt and set up their drive at the ten yard line. That drive was capped by a one-yard touchdown rush from Dra Rushton. Another defensive stop from the Penguins would result in a touchdown from Tyshon King to give the Penguins the 27-23 lead. The Panthers ended the third quarter with a Youngstown State takeaway by way of Theo Day’s first interception of the game.
The Penguins started off the fourth quarter and looked to put more points on the board with great field position. UNI’s defense had something else in mind and turned the tide of the game with two huge stops on third and one and fourth and inches to benefit from the turnover on downs. The resulting drive started and ended on chunk plays with Alex Allen bringing in his first reception of the day for 32 yards and Sam Schnee finding the back of the endzone for his first score of the game on a 30-yard reception. UNI’s defense held strong on third down once again to force a Penguin punt. The following drive resulted in yet another touchdown, this time from Tye Edwards for the first Panther rushing touchdown on a 30-yard run, set up by a 26-yard reception by Logan Wolf.
Youngstown State responded with a touchdown of their own on back-to-back receptions from wide receiver Oliver Bryce for 31 yards followed by a five-yard touchdown, but UNI would get the ball back after a failed onside kick attempt. Day put the final touches on UNI’s final scoring drive of the day with a one-yard sneak, while the Penguins marched down the field one final time to cut the lead to three points. UNI recovered YSU’s second onside kick attempt to seal the 44-41 victory.
Naran Buntin led the Panther receivers with 79 yards on three receptions as well as a touchdown for an average of 26.3 yards per reception. On the ground, Tye Edwards recorded 129 yards and one touchdown. Theo Day finished the game with 337 passing yards on 21 completions and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Theo Day moved into fifth all-time in passing yards in program history passing sixth-ranked Steve Sandon (1978-81) and fifth-ranked Eli Dunne (2015-18). Day sits with 6,631 passing yards after the Youngstown State victory.
It was a career day for the Panthers with Jaiden Ellis-Lahey and Naran Butin each recording the first touchdown receptions of their careers. Jahsiah Galvan also recorded his first career interception.
Matthew Cook continues his streak of made PATs recording five today for a total of 136 in his career
The Panthers extended their win-streak against Youngstown State to four games after the 44-41 result.
The Panthers are back in action at Indiana State in Terre Haute, Indiana next Saturday, October 7. The game kicks off at 6:00 p.m. CT and can be listened to on the Panther Radio Network.