From UNI Athletics Media Relations
AMES, Iowa – The No. 18 ranked UNI Panthers battled from the opening kickoff to final play, behind a pair of freshmen former walk-on players, quarterback Will McElvain and kicker Matthew Cook, but fell on the road to No. 21 Iowa State 29-26 in triple overtime at Jack Trice Stadium, Saturday.
McElvain went 25-42 for 228 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in his debut against an ISU team that returned eight starters off of one of the best defenses in the Big-12 last season.
He found eight different receivers in the game, led by seven catches by Deion McShane and nine catches to between the tight ends Briley Moore and Tristan Bohr.
Cook was perfect in field goals, hitting 4-4, including a 50-yard field goal in his first attempt and a 49-yard field goal in the first overtime. It was the first 50-yard make for the Panthers since 2015.
Trevor Allen ran for 26 yards and caught two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown in the second overtime.
The defense was the show for the Panthers, holding the vaunted ISU offense out of the end zone until the third quarter and forced the lone turnover of the game which resulted in a 53-fumble return for a touchdown by Xavior Williams, the longest fumble return for a touchdown in school history.
The game was a back and forth defense slugfest. Iowa State scored the lone points of the first half on a 42-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
In the third, UNI tied the game on its first drive with Cook’s 50-yarder, before the Cyclones responded with a 7-yard touchdown from Brock Purdy to La’Michael Pettway on the ensuing drive.
Cook added another field goal with 1:44 to play in the third and Williams added the defensive touchdown with just six seconds left in the third to UNI the 16-13 lead after three.
Iowa State drove to tie the game with just 59 seconds remaining to force overtime.
After trading field goals on the first OT, the Cyclones opened the second overtime with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Purdy to Pettway.
In the Panthers’ drive of the second OT, the Panthers were forced to go for it on fourth and three when McElvain found Deion McShane for a 12-yard strike to the six yard-line. On third and goal from the seven, McElvain scrambled and found Trevor Allen wide open in the back of the end zone.
Cook hit his fourth field goal to start the third overtime. Iowa State fumbled on the one yard-line, but Purdy was able to pounce on the ball and the Cyclones scored on the next play to close out the games.
The Panthers fall to 0-1 on the season but are back in action next week. UNI is in the dome for the home opener against Southern Utah on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at UNIPanthers.com/tickets or by calling the UNI ticket office at 319-273-4849.
– Xavior Williams fumble return for a touchdown is the longest fumble return touchdown in school history.
– The touchdown is the second defensive touchdown in Williams’ career.
– Freshman Omar Brown started at left corner and made three of the first four tackles for the Panthers from scrimmage.
– Will McElvain started the game 4-4 with catches by Briley Moore, Trevor Allen and a pair from Deion McShane.
– The Panthers 2-3 on third down in the opening drive.
– UNI started three of its first four drives inside their own 15-yard line.
– Will McElvain went 10-16 for 86 yards and 107.7 QB rating in the first half.
– Six players caught passes in the first half.
– Matthew Cook’s 50-yard field goal was longer than any field goal that the Panthers made during the 2018 season.
– It was the longest field goal since Michael Schmadeke made a 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter at home against South Dakota in 2015.
– This is first overtime game since the Panthers defeated Cal Poly 45-38 in the UNI-Dome on Sept. 9, 2017.
– Today’s game is the first double-overtime game since the 37-34 loss to South Dakota State on Oct. 26, 2013.
– Today’s game was the first triple-overtime game since a 29-26 win at Cal Poly in 2002.