116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - In any season, defense plays.
No. 5 Northern Iowa brought its defense out Saturday, shutting down Youngstown State, 21-0, in a Missouri Valley Football Conference game at Stambaugh Stadium.
'We had to hang our hat on who we are,” UNI Coach Mark Farley said. 'That's basically what UNI defense is. We had to get back to fundamentals ... winning the line of scrimmage.”
The Penguins were held to just nine first downs, 135 yards (71 rushing, 64 passing), and were 2-of-10 on third-down conversions.
The Panthers didn't force any turnovers, but had three sacks - two for sophomore defensive lineman Khristian Boyd and one for sophomore D-lineman Caden Houghtelling. UNI also had seven tackles for loss.
'We were upset about last week,” Boyd said, referring to a season-opening 24-20 loss to No. 3 South Dakota State. 'Instead of pointing fingers and blaming people, we just put the work in.”
On top of that, UNI had to win at the 'Ice Castle,” where it had not won since 2010.
'What we did today with the rushing game is how you win games on the road,” said Farley, who got win No. 100 in the MVFC/Gateway on Saturday.
Cedar Falls grad Matthew Cook kicked a pair of field goals in the first half for a 6-0 lead at intermission. UNI (1-1) finally cashed in when Dom Williams, a grad transfer from Kanas, scored a pair of short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
'It feels good to get back in the end zone; it's been awhile,” Williams said. 'It feels good to have a good line to push me into the end zone.”
The offensive line saw a bit of turnover from Week 1. Saturday it started Chase Arends, Jared Penning, Antione Frazier, Matthew Vanderslice and Isaiah Weston, which was a completely new starting five.
'We were trying to find the best pairing,” Farley said. 'They went out there today and played well together.”
Farley added that the line had a lot of turmoil this week. 'A lot of things happened that created a lot of options for us,” he said.
'The O-line was working all week, hard, even with people out,” Williams said.
UNI ran 73 offensive plays to just 43 for Youngstown State (0-2).
'I felt I saw a tired bunch there in the third and fourth quarter,” Youngstown State Coach Doug Phillips said. 'That's the defense on the field too long.”
Will McElvain was 15-of-30 passing for 183 yards for the Panthers. Quan Hampton, a junior transfer from Kansas, was his top target with five catches for 74 yards.
Tyler Hoosman led a multifaceted rushing attack with 68 yards on 12 carries. McElvain added 38 yards, Williams had 35 yards, Hampton had 24 yards and Trennan Carlson had 21 yards.
UNI returns to the UNI-Dome for a 4 p.m. kickoff Saturday against No. 7 Illinois State.