The UNI Panther defense recorded six sacks Saturday, throwing the Youngstown State Penguins out of synch during a 21-14 win at the UNI-Dome during the first conference game for both teams.
The win in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener moved UNI to 3-2 overall. All of the Panther victories have come at home. Youngstown State had won their first four games before colliding with UNI.
Ellerson Smith recorded two-and-a-half sacks, while Brawntae Wells contributed a sack-and-a-half.
In the fourth quarter, the biggest sack came when the Penguins were driving for the tying score. With 5:18 to go and the ball on the Panther 14, a sack-fumble caused by Austin Evans stifled the visitors’ drive when the ball was recovered by Seth Thomas.
Even though UNI gave the ball back seconds later via a fumble near midfield, the Panther defense came back off the sidelines to stop the Penguins cold and force a punt. That set up the final possession of the game, as UNI earned four first downs to run out the clock.
The Panthers took the lead 13 minutes into the opening quarter, when Will McElvain floated a 39-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Weston.
Late in the second quarter, UNI doubled the margin as Trevor Allen rushed for a 10-yard score.
During a frantic finish before halftime, the Penguins found the end zone when Nathan Mays connected with Jeremiah Braswell for a 75-yard touchdown down the sideline, but UNI also scored again before the quarter was out. Tyler Hoosman capped a seven-play 75-yard drive with his first career touchdown.
The final points of the game came early on the third quarter when Mays found Kendric Mallory for a 14-yard strike.
UNI is on the road next Saturday visiting defending national champion North Dakota State University.