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FARGO, N.D. — The things that have undone the University of Northern Iowa football team in recent history against North Dakota State bit the Panthers again Saturday.

Trailing just 18-14 at halftime and receiving the second-half kickoff against the No. 1 team in the country, UNI had a chance to seize momentum.

Instead, everything went haywire for the 10th-ranked Panthers.

A fumble on the UNI’s third play of the third quarter led to a quick North Dakota State touchdown. A dropped pass in the end zone and a missed field goal with the a chance to get within four points followed.

The end result was the defending national champion Bison (6-0 overall, 2-0 MVFC) won for the 27th consecutive time and sixth straight over UNI (3-3, 1-1), 46-14, at the FargoDome.

“The things that hurt us was the fumble after halftime, then we drive the field and drop the touchdown pass,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said. “Then the defense ... when we couldn’t stop the run we couldn’t control anything and it teetered over from there.”

Trey Lance threw three touchdown passes, and Adam Cofield ran for a pair of touchdowns as part of a 347-yard rushing effort by North Dakota State.

Will McElvain was 15 of 29 for 233 yards for UNI, with Isaiah Weston hauling in five passes for 129 yards with a touchdown.

“A lot of missed opportunities in the second half,” Weston said. “That team, just absolutely disciplined fundamentally and you can’t make mistakes or leave points out there like we did.”

The game turned on a dime in the third quarter with the Panthers in good position starting on their first possession.

On a third-and-nine play, McElvain hit Deion McShane on a crossing route. Just short of the yard to gain, McShane was hit hard, the ball popped loose and Marquise Bridges recovered for the Bison at the Panther 35.

Two plays later, Lance hit Noah Gindorff on a 30-yard touchdown pass and it was 25-14.

On the next series, McElvain hit Weston for a 37-yard gain to the NDSU 35, and runs of nine and seven yards got the Panthers inside the 20. But on second-and-10 from the 19, Jaylin James couldn’t hold onto a pass in the end zone. Two plays later, Matthew Cook missed a 37-yard field goal.

“Two missed field goals. Dropped pass in the end zone. Too many plays given up by our defense ... frustrating,” said linebacker Bryce Flater, who led UNI with 11 tackles.

It was a 25-14 game at the start of the fourth quarter, but an 11-play Bison drive ended in Cofield’s one-yard touchdown. Cofield added a 37-yard run and Kobe Johnson a 50-yarder as the game spiraled out of control for the Panthers.

North Dakota State took the opening kick down the field and grabbed the lead as Phoenix Sproles hauled in a 36-yard touchdown pass.

UNI responded with a nice drive that included 18- and 17-yard pass receptions by Aaron Graham and James. But after making his first nine collegiate field goal attempts, Cook was wide right from 42 yards.

A short punt set NDSU’s next scoring drive and a trick play backfired for UNI when McShane’s pass for Allen was underthrown and intercepted.

UNI got a break when the Bison fumbled on the next play, and Chris Kolarevic returned it 40 yards to the Bison 11.

After a sack, McElvain found Weston in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard score — the fifth consecutive game Weston has caught a touchdown pass.

“We were in reduced splits and I think that threw the entire defense off,” Weston said of the touchdown. “Their corner wasn’t on me and the free safety wasn’t even looking at me, so as soon as I broke my route off it was green grass and I scored.”

The Bison added a 25-yard field goal with 6:29 left to half, but a 30-yard pass from McElvain to Weston set up Hoosman’s six-yard touchdown run that pulled the Panthers within 18-14.

“The first half we responded the way I thought the game would go,” Farley said.

N. Dakota St. 46, UNI 14

Northern Iowa 0 14 0 0 — 14

North Dakota St. 15 3 7 21 — 46

First quarter

NDSU — Spoles 36 pass from Lance (Hendricks run), 10:57. (Drive: 8 plays, 77 yards, 3:57).

NDSU — Watson 18 pass from Lance (Crosa kick), 2:12. (Drive: 6 plays, 44 yards, 2:58).

Second quarter

UNI — Weston 17 pass from McElvain (Cook kick), 13:13). (Drive: 2 plays. 11 yards, :44).

NDSU — FG Crosa 25, 6:29. (Drive: 14 plays, 64 yards, 6:38).

UNI — Hoosman 6 run (Cook kick), 2:40. (Drive: 8 plays, 65 yards, 3:49).

Third quarter

NDSU — Gindorff 30 pass from Lance (Crosa kick), 13:02. (Drive: 2 plays, 35 yards, :42).

Fourth quarter

NDSU — Cofield 1 run (Crosa kick), 12:53. (Drive: 11 plays, 68 yards, 4:51).

NDSU — Cofield 37 run (Crosa kick), 9:05. (Drive: 4 plays, 54 yards, 1:51).

NDSU — Johnson 50 run (Crosa kick), 2:05. (Drive: 5 plays, 65 yards, 2:52).

Att. — 18,178.

TEAM STATISTICS

UNI NDSU

First downs 14 24

Rushes-yards 33-106 51-347

Passing yards 233 145

Comp-att-int 15-30-1 10-18-0

Return yards 40 37

Punts-avg. 4-39.5 3-50.7

Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1

Penalties-yards 4-25 1-15

Time of possession 28:20 31:40

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

UNI — Hoosman 12-54, McElvain 8-22, Allen 6-16, Soko 3-10, McCabe 3-6, Team 10-minus 2.

NORTH DAKOTA ST. — Cofield 15-104, Johnson 9-95, Lance 11-83, Brooks 12-51, Clark 2-13, Williams 1-3, Luepke 1-minus 2.

Passing

UNI — McElvain 15-29-0, 233 yards, McShane 0-1-1.

NORTH DAKOTA ST. — Lance 10-18-0, 145 yards.

Receiving

UNI — Weston 5-129, Graham 5-57, James 2-23, Phillips 1-17, McShane 1-7, Scott 1-0.

NORTH DAKOTA ST. — Sproles 3-59, Cofield 2-15, Brooks 2-15, Gindorff 1-30, Watson 1-19, Ellefson 1-7.

Tackles (solo-ast-total)

UNI — Flater 6-5-11, Jegen 4-6-10, Kolarevic 1-9-10, Brinkman 3-5-8, Lawrence 4-2-6, Evans 3-3-6, Williams 3-2-5, Smith 3-2-5, Wells 2-3-5, Brown 1-3-4, Cuvelier 2-0-2, Scott-Brown 1-0-1, Cook 1-0-1, Kibby 1-0-1, Hadachek 1-0-1, Butcher 0-1-1, Mooney 0-1-1, Brekke 0-1-1, Boyd 0-1-1.

NORTH DAKOTA ST. — Kaczor 4-3-7, Hayes 4-2-6, Tutsie 4-2-6, Hankey 1-4-5, Waege 2-1-3, Jab. Cox 2-1-3, Karcz 1-2-3, Tuszka 1-2-3, Talbert 2-0-2, McCormick 1-1-2, Biegler 1-1-2, Bridges 1-1-2, Mercadel 1-1-2, Hendricks 1-1-2, Pauly 0-2-2, Wlodarczyk 1-0-1, Lance 1-0-1, Jas. Cox 1-0-1, Tucker 0-1-1, Evans 0-1-1, Ching 0-1-1, Kava 0-1-1.

Tackles for loss

UNI — Evans 1-1, Smith 1-1, Cuvelier 1-1.

NORTH DAKOTA ST. — Tuszka 2-9, Hankey 0.5-0, Jab. Cox 0.5-1, Karcz 0.5-1, Tucker 0.5-0.

Sacks

UNI — none.

NORTH DAKOTA ST. — Tuszka 1.5-8, Karcz 0.5-1.

This article originally ran on wcfcourier.com.

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