FROM UNI ATHLETICS MEDIA RELATIONS.
Trevor Allen rushed for 90 yards and scored a touchdown and the Panther defense tallied three takeaways and held South Dakota State to just 89 yards in the second half to earn a 13-10 win over the Jackrabbits in the second round of the FCS Playoffs Saturday in South Dakota.
The game looked to be well in hand for the Jackrabbits early in the first quarter when they drove the field to score on their first drive and added a field goal on their second to take a 10-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first quarter. From that point on, UNI held SDSU off of the scoreboard and to just 157 total offensive yards.
The Panther defense tallied three interceptions in the second quarter and picked up three points on a Matthew Cook 23-yard field goal with 2:13 to play in the half.
UNI received the second-half kickoff and produced a dominant, 10-play, 75-yard drive that saw five rushes by Allen and an eight-yard first-down reception by Allen. The drive culminated in a two-yard Allen touchdown with 9:20 left in the third to tie the game at 10-10.
The UNI defense continued to make its presence known. SDSU had a 10-play 45-yard drive that culminated in a field goal attempt, but Elerson Smith recorded his second field goal block in two games against SDSU this season.
The Panthers ate the rest of the clock in the third with their drive, but were unable to get past midfield and punted the ball away as the horn blew for the quarter.
The teams traded possessions to start the fourth quarter, but UNI got the ball with 7:58 to play on their own 19-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Will McElvain scrambled for a 31-yard gain to midfield.
Three plays later, the Panthers faced a fourth and two on the SDSU 42. The offensive line got the needed push and Allen barreled to the 40 for the first down.
On third down, McElvain again escaped pressure to find Suni Lane on the six-yard line. The Panthers rushed the ball three times to the one-yard line. SDSU used their timeouts to preserve some time, but Cook hit the 18-yard go-ahead field goal with 2:10 remaining to give UNI the 13-10 lead.
South Dakota’s final drive was a back and forth battle of penalties. SDSU was called for holding on their first play. On fourth down, the Panthers were called for pass interference on what would have been an Omar Brown interception. On the ensuing first down, the Jackrabbits were again called for holding. Another apparent interception was called back on a UNI offsides call, but the Jackrabbits threw two incompletions in the final seconds and UNI took over on downs with 20 seconds remaining.
The game ended in victory formation for the Panthers.
The UNI defense recorded six tackles for loss, including three sacks. Smith tallied two TFLs, a sack and pair of QB hurries to go with his blocked field goal. Jared Brinkman notched a pair of TFLs and a forced fumble. Spencer Cuvelier and Bryce Flater notched a team-high eight tackles each and Cuvelier tallied a TFL.
Offensively, McElvain was 11-20 for 124 yards and an interception. Aaron Graham had a team-high three receptions for 45 yards, including a 33-yarder in the touchdown drive. Lane tallied three receptions for 37 yards, including the 31-yarder.
On the ground, Allen carried the ball 24 times for 90 yards. McElvain overcame five sacks for a loss of 33 yards with 67 positive yards for 23 total yards on the game.
SDSU’s Keaton Heide finished 14-27 for 167 yards and a touchdown and an interception. The Jackrabbits rushed for 53 yards on 23 carries. Mikey Daniel led the rushing attack with 43 yards and Adam Anderson led all receivers with 84 yards and a touchdown on four receptions.
UNI’s FCS National Quarterfinal playoff game will be Friday at 7 p.m. on the road against James Madison.