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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — As the errors mounted, Youngstown State’s lead increased.

Eventually, all of 22nd-ranked Northern Iowa’s mistakes added up to a mountain the Panthers could not scale as they dropped a 31-10 Missouri Valley Football Conference game Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.

In a game that was critical to UNI’s playoff hopes, the Panthers (5-5, 4-3 MVFC) could not get out of their own way.

Two bad snaps with UNI at the Youngstown State 1-yard line thwarted potential touchdowns, and a fumble inside the Panthers’ 5 handed the Penguins a TD.

“Just too many errors,” said UNI head coach Mark Farley.

A muddled first half saw the Panthers fall behind 14-7, then Youngstown State (4-6, 3-4) took just two plays to take a 21-7 lead in the third quarter.

UNI then got a 55-yard kickoff return from Xavior Williams to the Penguins’ 40. Five plays later, the Panthers were facing a third-and-inches at the Penguin 1 when a high-snap sailed over Marcus Weymiller’s head, forcing UNI to settle for a 34-yard Austin Errthum field goal.

On Youngstown State’s next possession, a third-and-16 pass from the Penguins’ 16 was sailing high when UNI safety Christian Jegen laid out the intended receiver early and drew a pass interference flag. Ten plays later, Tevin McCaster scored his third rushing touchdown of the game for a 28-10 lead with 1:59 left in the third quarter.

Minutes later, UNI once again seemed to gain a spark when Williams picked off a Montgomery VanGorder pass and returned it 61 yards to the Youngstown State 4-yard line. But on a second-and-goal from the 1, another bad snap sailed over the head of Panther quarterback Eli Dunne and Penguin Ray Anderson scooped it up and returned it all the way to the UNI 36.

“The two snaps factored into it. The fumble at the 5-yard line ... that is 21 points right there,” Farley said. “You are inside the 5-yard line going in and coming out and you have three errors.

“Then the penalty on the pass on the third-and-forever ... we are off the field and they continue that drive and score. It is those type of things you have to overcome, particularly on the road. You can’t let it affect you, and we did today. “

Zak Kennedy added to the Penguins’ lead with a 28-yard field goal that capped the scoring.

In the first half, UNI fell behind as the Penguins scored on a 62-yard pass from VanGorder to Darius Shackleford in the first quarter. Shackleford caught a short pass five yards down field, ducked a UNI tackler and ran untouched to the end zone.

Youngstown State took a 14-0 lead after recovering a Marcus Weymiller fumble at the Panther 5-yard line. McCaster scored on the next play with 12:37 left to halftime.

McCaster finished with 136 yards and three sores on 32 carries.

“It is tough to explain,” senior linebacker Duncan Ferch said. “We had a good game plan. We have to be more consistent.”

The Panthers finally got a first-half spark when Jalen Rima returned a punt 26 yards to the Penguin 34. Tyler Hoosman had a big third-down run, and Weymiller’s 14-yard run set up a four-yard touchdown pass from Dunne to Briley Moore with 55 seconds left to halftime.

Moore, UNI’s leading receiver, was injured with 9 minutes, 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter while blocking on a kick return. After a lengthy delay, Moore was strapped to a stretcher and transported to a Youngstown area hospital.

Moore, who has 35 catches for 479 yards and four scores, gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he was wheeled out of the stadium.

UNI managed just 192 total yards. Dunne finished just 8 of 22 for 73 yards.

“I thought we could’ve thrown the ball a little better than what we did,” Farley said. “That was a surprise. The weather didn’t help us. It was windy. It was cold. The ball didn’t seem to have any zip when it was flying today.”

Youngstown St. 31, UNI 10

Northern Iowa 0 7 3 0 — 10

Youngstown St. 7 7 14 3 — 31

First quarter

YSU — Shackleford 62 pass from VanGorder (Kennedy kick), 5:44. (Drive: 8 plays, 91 yards, 3:45).

Second quarter

YSU — McCaster 5 run (Kennedy kick), 12:37. (Drive: 1 play, 5 yards, :03).

UNI — Moore 4 pass from Dunne (Errthum kick), 0:55. (Drive: 6 plays, 34 yards, 2:24).

Third quarter

YSU — McCaster 29 run (Kennedy kick), 14:15. (Drive: 2 plays, 81 yards, :40).

UNI — FG Errthum 34, 10:55. (Drive: 7 plays, 22 yards, 3:08).

YSU — McCaster 1 run (Kennedy kick), 1:59. (Drive: 12 plays, 78 yards, 6:29).

Fourth quarter

YSU — FG Kennedy 28, 9:57. (Drive: 5 plays, 25 yards, 2:41).

Att. — 8,407.

TEAM STATISTICS

UNI YSU

First downs 12 17

Rushes-yards 35-119 43-192

Passing yards 73 209

Comp-att-int 8-22-0 13-22-1

Return yards 159 34

Punts-avg. 9-37.2 6-39.0

Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0

Penalty-yards 2-30 3-20

Time of possession 25:10 34:50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

UNI — M. Weymiller 19-89, T. Hoosman 10-71, E. Dunne 4-minus 7.

YOUNGSTOWN ST. — T. McCaster 35-136, J. Alessi 3-37, M. VanGorder 4-15, C. Turner 3-4.

Passing

UNI — E. Dunne 8-22-0, 73 yards.

YOUNGSTOWN ST. — M. VanGorder 13-22-1, 209 yards.

Receiving

UNI — N. Fossey 3-30, N. Phillips 2-17, E. Nissen 1-12, D. McShane 1-10, B. Moore 1-4.

YOUNGSTOWN ST. — D. Shackleford 2-73, M. Joiner 2-63, T. McCaster 3-21, Z. Torbert 1-20, C. Turner 3-14, S. St. Surin 1-13, R. Emans 1-5.

Tackles (solo-ast-total)

UNI — Jegen 6-2-8, Ferch 4-4-8, Sander 4-4-8, Neal 5-1-6, A.J. Allen 5-1-6, S. Thomas 1-5-6, Suntken 4-1-5, Douglas 3-1-4, Williams 3-0-3, Evans 2-1-3, Brinkman 2-1-3, Lambert 2-1-3, Flater 1-1-2, Wells 1-1-2, B. Thomas 0-2-2, Kibby 0-1-1, Hadachek 0-1-1, Nimmers 0-1-1.

YOUNGSTOWN ST. — Dellovade 4-5-9, Lee 3-3-6, Larkin 3-2-5, Smith 3-2-5, Gibson 1-3-4, Richmond 3-0-3, McGuigan 2-1-3, Mitchell 2-1-3, Thompson 1-2-3, Latham 2-0-2, McWilson 2-0-2, Parks 1-1-2, Anderson 1-1-2, Ragland 1-1-2, Crenshaw 1-0-1, McCaster 1-0-1, St. Surin 1-0-1, Jackson 1-0-1, Louigene 0-1-1, Smalls 0-1-1, Bynum 0-1-1, Randall-Posey 0-1-1.

Tackles for loss

UNI — Ferch 1.5-3, Neal 1-2, Douglas 1-1, Wells 0.5-0.

YOUNGSTOWN ST. — Smith 1-14.

Sacks

UNI — none.

YOUNGSTOWN ST. — Smith 1-14.

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Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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