UNI Panthers Blast Southern Illinois
The University of Northern Iowa came away with a 42-21 win over Southern Illinois on Saturday for Homecoming, improving to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in MVFC play.
Junior Daurice Fountain was the star of the show Saturday evening, scoring three receiving touchdowns with five catches and 89 yards. Aaron Bailey finished the game 11-18-0 for 186 yards and three touchdowns, adding 98 yards on the ground and one rushing score.
The UNI defensive unit held the Salukis to just 70 yards rushing. Daquan Isom, who entered the game averaging 84 yards per game on the ground, was held to just 46. The Panthers were led in tackles by Jared Farley, who recorded nine.
UNI punched in the first points of the game with a four-yard rushing touchdown from senior Tyvis Smith. The Davenport, Iowa native’s touchdown was set up by a huge 31-yard catch from redshirt freshman Trevor Allen to put the Panthers in the red zone. The rushing touchdown ended a 10-play, 88-yard drive that put UNI up 7-0 with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers continued to control the game in the first quarter, with a forced fumble from Duncan Ferch and a fumble recovery from Farley setting up UNI’s next points. Just three plays later that included a 37-yard rush from Aaron Graham, UNI found its way into the end zone with a seven-yard rushing touchdown from Bailey. The 35-yard scoring drive only took 1:07 off the clock, giving UNI a 14-0 lead at the 6:38 mark in the quarter.
Southern Illinois jumped on the scoreboard with 13:04 on the clock in the second quarter, cutting UNI’s lead in half. Josh Straughan found Connor Iwema open down field for a 33-yard passing touchdown to make the score 14-7. It ended a 12-play, 87-yard drive that burned 4:46 off the clock.
It didn’t faze the UNI offense, with the Panthers coming up with an answer on their next offensive drive. On a broken play, Bailey scrambled to the sideline and heaved a pass to a covered Fountain, but he was able to out-jump the SIU defender, bringing down the 20-yard pass for a touchdown with 10:40 left to play in the second quarter. The score ended a five-play, 68-yard drive that used up 2:24 on the clock.
Despite a strong start on offense, UNI struggled to keep SIU out of the end zone in the second quarter. The Salukis notched a 12-yard rushing touchdown from Isom after a penalty on the Panthers put SIU on the UNI 12-yard-line. The Southern Illinois touchdown cut the UNI lead to 21-14 with 9:07 left in the half, ending a 75-yard drive.
The second quarter shootout continued when Fountain scored his second touchdown of the game, this time an 18-yard reception with just 47 seconds left in the second quarter. UNI scored its third touchdown of the second quarter just seconds later when the UNI defense came up with a key play, resulting in an interception return for a touchdown from Malcolm Washington. The 43-yard return put UNI up 35-14 to end the half.
Both teams struggled to get an offensive rhythm going in the third quarter, going scoreless until the 4:17 mark. Southern Illinois scored the first points of the second half on a 50-yard pass from Straughan to Billy Reed, making the score 35-21. It ended a three-play, 59-yard drive that took just 41 seconds off the clock.
UNI opened the fourth quarter by countering with a receiving touchdown of its own, again at the hands of Fountain for the third time in the game. He fought off defenders to catch an eight-yard pass from Bailey, giving UNI a 42-21 lead with 14:55 on the clock. It ended a four-play, 46-yard drive for 1:28.
Fountains third touchdown was the last points scored in the game, with UNI holding Southern Illinois to just 33 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter, sealing the 42-21 victory.
UNI returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 8 when they travel to Vermillion, S.D. to take on the South Dakota Coyotes. The game is set to kick off at 2 p.m. CT.