Top-ranked North Dakota State ran away late from 10th-ranked Northern Iowa for a 46-14 win Saturday afternoon at the Fargodome in Fargo, N.D.
NDSU QB Trey Lance completed 10 of 18 pass attempts for 145 yards and three touchdowns and the Bison (6-0, 2-0 MVFC) ran for 347 yards, scoring four unanswered second-half touchdowns.
“We came in that first half and it was a fist fight. We were both smacking each other,” UNI (3-3, 1-1) linebacker Bryce Flater said on the Panther Sports Radio Network postgame show. “Came out that second half and we were hoping to do the same and they got a little bit of momentum and overall they out-physicaled us.”
After falling behind 15-0 in the first quarter, UNI linebacker Chris Kolarevic recovered and returned a Bison fumble 40 yards to the NDSU 11 early in the second. Two plays later, Will McElvain — who completed 15 of 29 attempts for a game-high 235 yards — threw his only touchdown on a 17-yard completion to Isaiah Weston.
Weston’s TD marked the fifth consecutive game he’s scored. The sophomore finished the game with five catches for a career-high 129 yards.
“When Will would call the plays, me and (him) were looking at each other just like, just go ball, go hard, he’ll throw it up and I’ll do whatever I can to go up and get it,” Weston said.
Just over 10 minutes later, after a Griffin Crosa 25-yard field goal, Tyler Hoosman capped off an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run to bring UNI back within one score at 18-14.
Hoosman led the Panthers with 54 yards on 12 carries as starting running back Trevor Allen left the game in the second half with an injury.
“Just in that kind of football game against that kind of football team, I thought we were right where we needed to be at halftime,” Farley said.
Lance threw his third TD when tight end Noah Gindorff’s delayed release route left him open for a 30-yard catch and run with 13 minutes left in the third quarter to go ahead 25-14.
UNI drove 67 yards in 10 plays after the Gindorff TD, but on the drive’s eighth play, Jaylin James dropped what would have been a 19-yard touchdown to bring the Panthers back within a score. Two plays after the James drop, Matthew Cook — who missed a 42-yard field goal in the first quarter — missed a 37-yard attempt.
The Panthers and Bison then exchanged three-and-outs two consecutive times before Adam Cofield ran for touchdowns on back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter. A 50-yard run from Kobe Johnson with 2:05 left gave the Bison their 27th consecutive win.
“If you can’t stop the rush I don’t care what you do on offense, you’re not going to win a football game,” Farley said. “And they controlled the clock, they controlled the play-calling, they controlled everything because we could not stop the run game.
“I’m a defensive guy, this cannot happen. It cannot happen at UNI”
UNI hosts South Dakota (3-3, 2-0) next Saturday at 4 p.m.