FARGO, N.D. – It is becoming a scenario far too familiar for the Northern Iowa football program.
With momentum on its side despite playing from behind most of the first half, the Panthers had a chance to end years of frustration in the Fargodome.
But within six minutes of the third quarter, the Panthers chances were dashed by a Bison team that beat UNI for the seventh-straight time at home.
Fifth-ranked NDSU (5-0) scored twice in the first six minutes of the third quarter to pull away from the No. 16 Panthers for a 34-20 Missouri Valley Football Conference win.
“I felt that was a game we could have won if we locked in and stayed focused,” UNI wide receiver Isaiah Weston said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a lot.”
Trailing 13-10 at the break, UNI got the ball to open the third quarter but a false start put the Panthers behind the chains early and UNI punted. The Bison’s Jayden Price returned the punt 41 yards to the UNI nine, and three plays later Quincy Patterson scored on a four-yard run for a 20-10 lead.
Then Theo Day was sacked by Will Mostaert and fumbled and the Bison recovered at the UNI 21. NDSU scored four plays later on a 3-yard pass from Patterson to Noah Gindorff for a 27-10 lead with 9:02 left in the third.
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“We gave them two short fields and that was very frustrating,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said. “We had done well enough to be back where we wanted to be.
“We had to have a good start. We had a terrible drive in the first possession coming out of the gate.”
The Panthers had an immediate response as Day hit Isaiah Weston for 68 yards and Dom Williams scored on the very next play from the five to cut UNI’s deficit to 27-17.
Weston finished with five catches for 181 yards and a touchdown.
But NDSU had an answer too, and a long one.
Twice UNI had the Bison in a third and long situation, and twice the Panthers lost contain on Patterson.
On a third-and-10 Patterson scrambled 25 yards for an initial first down. He broke free for an 8-yard gain on third-and-8 for another first down as part of a 16-play, 80-yard drive that ate up more than eight minutes.
“The quarterback getting out of the pocket on that one drive…we needed to get him down and get off the field,” safety Korby Sander said.
UNI had a chance to grab early momentum, too.
On NDSU’s third play Patterson fumbled and Riley Van Whye pounced on it on the Bison.
But the Panthers had a false start on first down, two rushes for no yards and incomplete pass on third before punting.
The Bison took a 7-0 lead on a 85-yard pass from Patterson to Christian Watson with 7:37 left in the first.
Another 38-yard pass to Watson set up a shot field goal and a 10-0 lead.
UNI responded behind some strong running by Bradrick Shaw before Day hit Weston over the top for a 44-yard score.
A 29-yard pass to Weston and a 22-yard scramble by Day set up a 33-yard field goal by Matthew Cook to tie it 10-all with 3 minutes left to half.
NDSU got a late field goal aided by a pair of personal foul penalties to lead 13-10 at halftime.
“What is right on mind is the two bombs in the first half and then the two turnovers, technically the punt return and the turnover both were inside 15 yard and there is your 28 points,” Farley said. “When I look at offense we can throw the football and rush the football, we just weren’t disciplined. The penalties absolutely killed us. Those are self-inflicted wounds that can’t happen.”
UNI actually out-gained NDSU, 381-363.
Day, however, completed on 12 of 31 passes, and UNI had nine penalties for 77 yards.
NDSU 34, UNI 20
Northern Iowa 0 10 7 3 – 20
North Dakota St. 10 3 14 7 – 24
NDSU – Watson 85 pass from Patterson (Reinholz kick), 7:37.
NDSU – Reinholz 27 FG, 3:37.
UNI – Weston 44 pass from Day (Cook kick), 11:24.
UNI – Cook 34 FG, 3:00.
NDSU – Reinholz 22 FG, :23.
NDSU – Patterson 4 run (Reinholz kick), 11:46.
NDSU – Gindorff 3 pass from Patterson (Reinholz kick), 9:02.
UNI – Williams 5 run (Cook), 7:39.
NDSU – Patterson 4 run (Reinholz kick), 14:09.
UNI – Cook 44 FG, 9:08.
First downs 14 15
Rushes-yards 32-124 43-181
Passing 257 182
Comp-Att-Int 12-31-0 11-21-0
Return Yards 37 70
Punts-Avg. 5-35.0 5-45.0
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 1-1
Penalty-Yards 9-70 3-30
Time of Possession 27:37 32:23
RUSHING—N. Iowa, Br. Shaw 10-44, Do. Williams 9-35, Th. Day 10-28, Va. McShane 3-17. N. Dakota St., Qu. Patterson 12-60, Hu. Luepke 10-40, Ko. Johnson 10-39, Ch. Watson 2-18, Do. Gonnella 5-12, Ta. Williams 2-10, Ja. Bussey 2-2.
PASSING—N. Iowa, Th. Day 12-31-0-257. N. Dakota St., Qu. Patterson 11-21-0-182.
RECEIVING—N. Iowa, Is. Weston 5-181, Qu. Hampton 5-53, Va. McShane 1-12, De. McShane 1-11. N. Dakota St., Ch. Watson 5-163, No. Gindorff 2-11, Ph. Sproles 2-8, Br. Henderson 1-0, Hu. Luepke 1-0.