Panther Turnovers Costly

Northern Iowa Falls 34-17 to Weber St.

Some might call it a top 20 “cat fight” in the UNI Dome as the # 9 Weber St Wildcats traveled from Ogden, UT to take on the #20 Northern Iowa Panther football team. The Panthers were looking to bounce back from a 30-9 loss to FBS Iowa St last week.


Northern Iowa started the game on offense and Theo Day wasted no time in getting his own ground game picking up the first first down of the game with a scramble. Sam Schnee had a key 3rd down catch for a first down to keep the sticks moving, but the drive stalled when Day was sacked at midfield on the ensuing third down.


Weber St started the air onslaught immediately when Kylan Wiesser hit Jacob Sharp on a deep pass down the right sideline for 77 yards. Damon Bankston finished the drive with a 3 yard run into the endzone to give the Wildcats the early lead.


UNI was able to find a big gainer on their second possession when Day hit Sergio Morency for a 33 yard gain to move into Wildcat territory. Weber St got slapped with a disconcerting signals penalty and UNI followed that with a 20 yard Tye Edwards run to move into the red zone. However, the drive stall and Northern Iowa settled for a 40 yard Matthew Cook field goal to make the score 7-3 Weber St.


Northern Iowa found some offensive rhythm on their final drive of the first quarter with short passes that turned into long gains. The Panthers moved the ball to the Weber St 25, but a Tye Edwards fumble gave the ball back to the Wildcats. However, Salesian Staley immediately changed the momentum when he picked off the next Weisser pass, giving the ball to the Panthers at their own 35 yard line. The first quarter ended with Weber St leading 7-3.


Sam Schnee opened the second quarter with a 35 yard pickup on a deep out pattern to move the football to the Weber St 30 yard line. Logan Wolf then made a catch on a dig route to set the Panthers up deep in the red zone. But it was Theo Day making a remarkable scramble and throw for a touchdown to Sam Schnee. Day was being chased and scrambled to his left. As he was going down he was able to shot put the ball to Schnee in the front corner of the endzone to give the Panthers a 10-3 lead at the 10:46 mark of the second quarter.


Weber St answered back later in the quarter with an 80 yard drive capped by a Damon Bankston 26 yard touchdown run to make the score 14-10 with three and half minutes remaining in the first half.


On the ensuing kickoff a late hit penalty against Weber St gave the Panthers an additional 15 yards, letting them start their drive at the 40 yard line. Theo Day hit Logan Wolf for a 13 yard gain on a slant and UNI was off and moving. Tye Edwards ripped off another 12 on a ran, and a Schnee catch for a first down had the Panthers in the red zone. Then Day found Edwards for a gain of 19 to the one yard line with 1:05 left in the half. Edwards finished off the scoring drive with a one yard run right up the chute. The 60 yard drive gave UNI a 17-14 lead over the Wildcats.

The end of the half was not without excitement, however. On the following kickoff Weber St nearly met disaster as the two return men ran into each other. However, Abraham Williams was able to gain control of the ball and found a seam to the right side of the field and gained 38 yards, starting the Wildcat drive at the UNI 42 yard line. After two runs and an incomplete pass QB Kylan Weisser found Jayleen Record for a 38 yard gainer to the UNI 2 yard line. Bankston lost three yards on the next play forcing Weber St to burn their last time out. On the other side of the stoppage the Wildcats attempted a fade route that drew a pass interference penalty against Corry Thomas Jr. After thwarting the Wildcats one two more pass plays WSU settled for a game tying Kyle Thompson 19 yard field goal that took us to halftime. The Panthers outgained Weber St 262 to 221 in the first half, including 213 yards through the air.


After a Weber St punt on their opening possession, Theo Day tried to find Sam Schnee on a crossing route. The ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell to Weber St defensive back Jack Kelly, who returned it to the Northern Iowa 10 yard line. Two plays later Weisser found Hayden Meacham for a nine yard touchdown pass to give the Wildcats a 24-17 lead just four minutes into the second half. UNI looked to answer the score, but after making a first down it was a fumble by Theo Day gave the Wildcats the ball at the UNI 45 yard line. The Panther defense was able to stiffen, however. They held the Wildcats to a Kyle Thompson field goal attempt, which he pushed wide from 45 yards.


In the fourth quarter Theo Day was rocked on a sack fumble deep in Panther territory, but UNI’s Edwards picked it up and on the very next play Day completed to Wolf for 23 yards and a first down. The drive stalled at the UNI 43 yard line and the Panthers were forced to punt. The punt was fielded by BJ Carey and returned nearly 30 yards to the Weber St 30 yard line. The Panther defense forced a three and out and set up to receive a punt. The punt slightly shanked off the foot of Jack Burgess, which made it roll along the turf. Sam Schnee attempted to pick up the ball, but mishandled it. Weber St punt teamer Clarence Butler at the UNI 23 yard line with eight minutes left of the game clock. The Wildcats turned this into a ten point lead after a 43 yard Thompson field goal to make the score 27-17.


Northern Iowa had a little over five and half minutes remaining the game to mount a comeback. After picking up two first downs it looked like all attempts were over as Day appeared to throw an interception that was returned for a touchdown. However, offsetting pass interference and face masking penalties reset the ball for UNI with a first down at the Weber State 43 yard line. Tye Edwards, two plays later, appeared to take a screen pass 41 yards to paydirt, only to have it called back on and offensive pass interference penalty that backed the Panthers to their own 42 yard line, and faced third down and 25. On the next play Day threw an interception to Nasame Colvin. The Wildcats put the exclamation point on the win when Damon Bankston ripped of a 67 yard touchdown run to seal the deal. Thompson’s extra point made the score 34-17 in favor of the Weber State Wildcats. One more interception by Day effectively closed the book on any kind of miracle rally as Weber St. ran the last 2:36 off of the game clock.


Northern Iowa falls to 0-2 on the season and will travel to Idaho State next week.

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