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College football: Panther offense looked lost without Weston
NO. 5 UNI 17, INDIANA ST. 9

College football: Panther offense looked lost without Weston

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Northern Iowa's Isaiah Weston pulls down a pass ahead of Indiana State's Denzel Bonner during the Panthers' win over the Sycamores last season in the UNI-Dome.

CEDAR FALLS -- There would been collective gasp from the more than 8,500 fans at the UNI-Dome had anybody seen him go down.

But in real time, Northern Iowa quarterback Will McElvain's incomplete pass intended for Jaylin James in the end zone midway through the second quarter had a more adverse outcome than the incomplete pass.

On that play, star receiver Isaiah Weston, out of sight, hobbled off the field and straight to the sidelines unnoticed by just about everybody. At the four-minute mark, three minutes after the incomplete pass and UNI leading 10-6, Weston was seen jogging to the Panther lockerroom.

While the sophomore, who is 18-yards short of 1,000 for the season, returned to the sideline in the second half, he did not have his helmet.

"I don't know for sure (what happened), but we will find out," UNI head coach Mark Farley said.

Without Weston, UNI's offense spun its wheels for most of the second half before the Panthers managed to hold onto its 17-9 victory.

Weston finished with two catches for 58 yards, including a 47-yard grab that helped set up McElvain's 25-yard touchdown pass to Suni Lane that gave UNI a 7-3 first-quarter lead.

Without Weston, UNI managed a seven-play, 70-yard drive late in the first half sparked by an Aaron Graham 19 yard run, and a 17-yard McElvain to Lane connection that resulted in a 13-yard Trevor Allen touchdown run.

But in the second half, UNI pruduced just two first downs and 35 total yards.

Farley said in addition to the loss of Weston, UNI was also short tight end Matthew Vanderslice and running back Tyler Hoosman.

"I was shocked because we had lost Isaiah Weston," Farley said. "That changed things. The hard part of the offense was to get some type of offensive plan that you can run with  ... losing Isaiah because he was a big part of the package ... things changed when he came out of the game.

"Maybe a regret that we didn't carry enough packages that we could go to when Isaiah went out. Too much leaning on him to do things, and not enough leaning on other people."

TURNOVER JUNKIES: The win Saturday was UNI's fourth in a row, and during the win streak the Panthers have forced 16 turnovers, including three against the Sycamores.

UNI is now a plus-12 in turnover margin after winning that category, 3-0, Saturday.

"We are just doing our job and doing it well," said defensive end Elerson Smith. "We're playing sound, played fast and real physical and I think you can check off all those boxes when we are playing at our best.

"It is a crazy stat that we've had that many turnovers. That is a cool stat."

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Sports Reporter

I’m a Waterloo native who has covered Cedar Valley sports for more than 30 years for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. I’m also a big Cincinnati Reds fan … Go Big Red Machine!

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