CEDAR FALLS — The post-game meal late Saturday night did not go down well for Northern Iowa senior Jackson Scott-Brown.
A series of first-quarter errors avalanched on the Panthers in a 29-17 loss at Weber State in UNI’s final non-conference game.
The Panthers (2-2) fumbled and recovered the opening kickoff, but that meant their first possession started on their own 13. UNI gave up a long touchdown pass on the Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage, fumbled and lost the ensuing kickoff and then threw an interception.
The end result, 17-0 deficit in the first nine minutes of the game and a 20-3 deficit after one quarter. A week ago, UNI was able to overcome a similarly slow start and beat Idaho State, but on the road and against a Top-5 opponent, it was too big of a deficit to overcome.
“I have a pretty sour taste in my mouth,” Scott-Brown said.
Scott-Brown said the slow starts fall on the players saying the coaches have put the team in position to succeed and the team is failing to execute especially in the first quarter.
“We need to be able to say, ‘Hey, everybody needs to worry about their job,’” Scott-Brown said. “We got to be able to focus on doing your job every single play and not worrying about what other people do.”
Senior defensive end Seth Thomas agreed, saying, “We all made our own errors.”
With its Missouri Valley Football Conference opener up this Saturday against undefeated Youngstown State (4-0) at the UNI-Dome for homecoming, UNI has to find a way to come out of the gates faster.
“We’ve got a good football team that did not perform in the first quarter and then tried to rally from behind,” Panther head coach Mark Farley said. “We didn’t perform in the first quarter last week and rallied and won the game. So they better learn what they need to do coming out of the game because three-quarters of football ... you better play four quarters.”
UNI made adjustments at halftime, moved the ball offensively better and defensively against a more conservative WSU offensive approach, shutdown the Wildcats holding them to negative-7 yards in the third quarter and 1-yard the entire second half as the Panthers for the third straight game held their opponents to under 300 offensive yards.
“We made the right adjustments, but their scheme changes, too,” Thomas said. “We needed to come out and keep grinding.”
THE REVIEW: UNI had a shot to get back into the game early in the third quarter trailing 27-10, forcing a three-and-out from the Wildcats on their opening possession, and then driving all the way to the WSU 29, when a strange sequence of plays saw the Panther end up turning the ball over on downs.
On a third-and-three play from the WSU, Tyler Hoosman rushed for two yards, landing near the line to gain for a first down. UNI then lined up with quarterback Will McElvain under center sneaking for an apparent first down. But after the pile cleared, the referee announced that the previous play was under review for whether Hoosman had made the yard to gain, negating the first down run. The call on the field was confirmed, and on the ensuing play, a run blitz downed Hoosman for a 1-yard loss.
Scott-Brown and Farley said neither of them heard a whistle stopping the initial, non-play.
“The explanation ... the guy apologized to me,” Farley said. “It wasn’t the guys on the floor, it was the guys in the instant replay (booth) that probably should’ve buzzed it before. I stood by (sideline official) the whole time previous to the play and (no whistle) so we ran our play and that is when they decided to buzz it.
“It was human error that didn’t have anything to do with what was happening on the floor ... it’s part of the game.”
FINGERS CROSSED: Three key players went down with injuries in the game and their status is up in the air for the game with Youngstown State.
Tight end Tristan Bohr went down early in the second half and had to be helped off the field putting little to no weight on his right leg. With Briley Moore out it could possibly be the worse injury UNI could have suffered.
If Bohr’s out, UNI is down to three freshman tight ends — Jayden Scott, Alex Allen, and Maverick Gatrost.
Wide receiver Isaiah Weston, who has touchdown receptions in three straight games, suffered what appeared to be a concussion early in the fourth quarter trying to catch a slant pass and he was hit high. After laying on the field for a while, Weston and trainers walked straight to the Panther locker room.
Corner Roosevelt Lawrence was hurt and replaced by Micah Mayberry at right corner.
“I really don’t know,” Farley said of that trio’s status. “That is probably the biggest thing is to see who we have for next week. It affects your depth chart, and today affected our depth chart.”
1.) Weston. Before leaving the game, Weston had four catches for 84 yards and his third touchdown catch of the season.
2.) Bryce Flater. Led UNI with 11 tackles, including 1 1/2 for loss.
3.) Will McElvain. It wasn’t his best game but he threw for 219 yards and two scores and he rushed for 105 yards, getting many of those on designed QB runs.
WSU 29, UNI 17
Northern Iowa 3 7 0 7 — 17
Weber State 20 7 2 0 — 29
WSU — Shaheed 73 pass from Jenks (Tuttle kick), 12:05. (Drive: 1 play, 73 yards, :10).
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WSU — FG Tuttle 25, 9:58. (Drive: 4 plays, 7 yards, 2:02).
WSU — Jackson 2 run (Tuttle kick), 5:43. (Drive: 8 plays 38 yards, 2:51).
UNI — FG Cook 35, 3:27. (Drive: 6 plays, 58 yards, 2:16).
WSU — FG Tuttle 41, :48. (Drive: 9 plays, 51 yards, 2:39).
WSU — Malone 13 pass from Jenks (Tuttle kick), 8:30. (Drive: 12 plays, 67 yards, 6:19).
UNI — Weston 37 pass from McElvain (Cook kick), 1:35. (Drive: 6 plays, 81 yards, 2:16).
WSU — Safety, UNI snaps ball out of end zone, 3:08.
UNI — James 2 pass from from McElvain (Cook kick), 4 04. (Drive: 13 plays, 95 yards, 6:12).
First downs 19 14
Rushes-yards 37-165 36-66
Passing 219 219
Comp-Att-Int 16-30-1 19-29-0
Return Yards 40 72
Punts-Avg. 5-39.6 7-46.7
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalty-Yards 4-40 8-65
Time of Possession 27:27 32:33
NORTHERN IOWA — McElvain 16-105, T. Allen 9-41, T. Hoosman 11-26.
WEBER STATE — K. Smith 14-25, J. Davis 10-19, R. Shaheed 1-15, K. Jenks 6-10, H. Meacham 1-1, K. Jackson 2-0.
NORTHERN IOWA — W. McElvain 16-29-1-219.
WEBER STATE — K. Jenks 19-29-0-219.
NORTHERN IOWA — I. Weston 4-84, J. James 5-70, T. Bohr 3-22, D. McShane 1-19, A. Graham 1-13, T. Allen 2-11.
WEBER STATE — R. Shaheed 1-73, D. Cooley 4-45, J. Malone 3-32, D. Ames 4-31, J. Davis 6-29, K. Smith 1-9.