CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Northern Iowa kept South Dakota State out of the end zone, handing the 20th-ranked Jackrabbits their first Missouri Valley Football Conference loss, 27-6, Saturday afternoon at the UNI-Dome.
The Jackrabbits fell out of sole possession of first place in the MVFC standings, dropping to 3-1 in league play and 5-2 overall. UNI picked up its first league win, improving to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the MVFC.
UNI took advantage of an interception in Jackrabbit territory, needing only two plays to score as Sawyer Kollmorgen hooked up with tight end Sam Rohr for a 40-yard touchdown with 10 minutes and 51 seconds to play in the first quarter.
The Jackrabbits responded with a seven-and-a-half-minute drive, marching 64 yards on 14 plays before settling for a season-best 40-yard field goal by Justin Syrovatka.
The Panthers converted a pair of third-down attempts on their next possession, building the lead to 14-3 on a 16-yard touchdown pass in the back-left corner of the end zone from Kollmorgen to Brett LeMaster. UNI later built the lead to 17-3 on a 39-yard field goal by Tyler Sievertsen with 1:03 to play in the half.
SDSU regained some momentum with its hurry-up offense in the final 63 seconds of the half. Quarterback Austin Sumner went 5-for-6 on the drive for 60 yards to set up a 27-yard field goal by Syrovatka as time expired that made the score 17-6.
The second half belong to the Panthers, who scored on their opening drive. David Johnson capped the eight-play, 64-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Sievertsen capped the scoring with a 26-yard field goal on the Panthers' first play of the fourth quarter. UNI ran out the clock with a 14-play drive that chewed up the final 8:32.
Johnson led UNI with 121 yards on 27 carries. Kollmorgen completed 13-of-21 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. LeMaster ended the day with three receptions for 48 yards.
The Panthers held a 378-305 advantage in total offense.
Jackrabbit running back and Walter Payton Award candidate Zach Zenner crossed the 100-yard mark for the seventh consecutive game, gaining 112 yards on 19 carries. Zenner added a career-high five receptions for 22 yards, while Brandon Hubert added four catches for 56 yards. Sumner ended the day 18-of-28 passing for 152 yards.
T.J. Lally and David Hettiger led the Jackrabbit defense with nine tackles. Garrett Scott and Wilmot Wellington each tallied nine tackles for UNI.
The Jackrabbits return home Oct. 27 for Hobo Day, facing Youngstown State. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
NOTES: Northern Iowa leads the all-time series, 28-17-2 … UNI has won six of the last seven meetings, including each of the last three … the Jackrabbits had their winning streak against Football Championship Subdivision opponents end at eight, including six consecutive MVFC games … Zenner ended the day with 1,360 yards for the season, vaulting into fifth place on the Jackrabbit single-season charts by passing Cory Koenig (1,266 yards in 2007) for eighth place, Kyle Minnet (1,289 yards in 2008 and 1,304 in 2009) for sixth and seventh, and Rick Wegher (1,317 yards in 1984) for fifth place … Zenner's longest run of the day was 19 yards … attendance was 13,067 on homecoming at UNI