BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) – Northern Iowa scored the final 13 points of the game, including the game-winning 18-yard field goal by Matthew Cook with 2 minutes, 10 seconds remaining, as the Panthers knocked off seventh-seeded South Dakota State, 13-10, in second-round action of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
UNI improved to 10-4 overall and will travel to second-seeded James Madison in quarterfinal action next weekend. SDSU ended its season with an 8-5 overall record.
The Jackrabbits dominated the first quarter, scoring all 10 of their points. Walter Payton Award finalist Cade Johnson put the Jackrabbits at midfield by returning the opening kickoff 43 yards. Freshman quarterback Keaton Heide completed all three of his passes on the five-play opening drive, culminating with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Adam Anderson.
After the SDSU forced a three-and-out on the Panthers’ first drive of the game, followed by a short punt, the Jackrabbits upped their lead to 10-0 on a 22-yard field goal by Chase Vinatieri.
SDSU turned the ball over on each of its first three possessions of the second quarter, but UNI could only capitalize once as the Panthers turned the final miscue into three points as Cook connected on a 23-yard field goal with 2:13 to play in the first half.
UNI tied the game with a 10-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half. Running back Trevor Allen scored on a 2-yard run, two plays after a 33-yard catch and run by Aaron Graham on a pass to the right flat by Will McElvain.
Yards and first downs remained elusive for both offensive units until UNI put together the game-winning 12-play drive that started midway through the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 19, McElvain jump-started the Panthers with a 31-yard scramble and run to midfield on the opening play. Allen extended the drive with a 2-yard run for a first down on fourth-and-2 from the SDSU 42 before McElvain hit Suni Lane along the right sideline for a 31 yards to the set up first and goal at the Jackrabbit 5.
The SDSU defense held UNI out of the end zone, but Cook converted his second field-goal attempt of the game.
The final Jackrabbit drive was aided by a pair of UNI penalties that negated interceptions, but SDSU could not get the ball past its own 35 before turning the ball over on downs.
UNI held a 238-220 advantage in total offense, with Allen gaining a game-high 90 yards on 24 carries. McElvain completed 11-of-20 passes for 124 yards. Graham led Panther receivers with 45 yards on three catches.
For SDSU, Heide completed 14-of-27 passes for 167 yards. Johnson caught five passes for 35 yards, with Anderson tallying four receptions for a season-high 84 yards in his final collegiate game. Mikey Daniel paced the ground game with 43 yards on nine carries.
Christian Rozeboom and Seven Wilson shared game-high honors in tackles with 10 apiece. Defensive end Ryan Eairth collected eight tackles, including a career-best two-and-a-half sacks.
Bryce Flater and Spencer Cuvelier each registered eight tackles to lead UNI.
- SDSU and UNI split the season series and are 1-1 against each other in the postseason
- UNI leads the all-time series, 32-22-2
- The Panthers entered the game ranked sixth in both the STATS FCS media poll and by the FCS coaches; SDSU was 10th in the media poll and ranked 12th by the coaches
- SDSU dropped to 5-1 in home playoff games and 8-9 overall in nine FCS playoff appearances
- The Jackrabbits dropped to 7-3 when scoring first
- Michael Griffin II intercepted a pass in the first quarter, giving the Jackrabbits an interception in all 13 games this season and 19 of 20 games dating back to 2018
- Rozeboom finished his career with an SDSU-record 475 tackles, including a team-best 111 in 2019
- Rozeboom tied an SDSU record with his 53rd consecutive start, matching the total first set by Jake Wieneke and Jacob Ohnesorge from 2014-17
- Rozeboom recorded double figures in tackles for the 25th time in his career
- Vinatieri ended his career with an SDSU-record 362 kicking points (47 FG, 221 PAT)
- Johnson moved into a tie for sixth place in single-season receptions with 72, equaling Wieneke’s total in 2015 and Dallas Goedert’s mark in 2017
- Attendance was 4,102