116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa flexed its tenured Division-I muscle on FCS newcomer St. Thomas Saturday afternoon at the UNI-Dome, cruising to a 44-3 win.
The Panthers (2-1) began their rout of the Tommies (1-1) with a dominant five-play, 52-yard drive on their first possession. Quarterback Theo Day — making his first start — completed his first pass for a gain of 7 yards to Deion McShane. Four plays later, Dom Williams — who ran for 73 yards on seven carries — followed blockers around the right side for a 36-yard touchdown.
After forcing six turnovers in last week’s win, UNI’s defense got its first of four takeaways with just over eight minutes to play in the first quarter. Pressured by Caden Houghtelling, Tommies quarterback Tommy Dolan fumbled and Tim Butcher recovered in St. Thomas territory. After failing to gain a first down, UNI kicker Matthew Cook converted a 42-yard field goal for an early 10-0 lead.
UNI’s defense didn’t wait long to nab its second takeaway of the game. Less than a minute into the second quarter, with St. Thomas just outside the red zone, Benny Sapp III intercepted Dolan and returned it 42 yards into UNI territory.
The Panthers came up empty on the ensuing drive, but got their second long touchdown run of the game on their next possession, as Vance McShane juked two Tommies on a 41-yard sprint to the endzone.
After an ill-advised throw from Day, St. Thomas mustered its only points in the second quarter. Rolling right, Day threw for McShane and was intercepted by Joe Hird at the UNI 46. Five plays later, kicker Louis Hyde converted a 35-yard field goal and the Tommies entered halftime trailing 17-3.
Williams opened the second half with a 53-yard kickoff return that set the tone for the game’s final 30 minutes.
Sapp registered his second interception in the third quarter, wile Cook converted 46- and 32-yard field goals and running back Bradrick Shaw ran for a 4-yard touchdown.
Leading 30-3 in the fourth, Day — who completed 18 of 31 passes for 193 yards — connected with Isaiah Weston for a 60-yard touchdown. With less than a minute to play, UNI’s Sean Wendel recovered a botched punt and ran 12 yards for a touchdown.
UNI is on a bye next week before opening Missouri Valley Football Conference play at home against Youngstown State on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 4 p.m.