Northern Iowa looks strong in 20-7 win over South Dakota - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Northern Iowa looks strong in 20-7 win over South Dakota

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The Northern Iowa Panthers football team understands it has a challenge in front of it as the pursuit for an FCS playoff spot enters the final month of the season.

For the second straight week, the Panthers answered the bell. This time, it was in definitive -- if not dominant -- fashion.

The 18th-ranked UNI Panthers (4-4, 2-3 Missouri Valley) topped pesky MVC foe South Dakota (4-4, 2-3 Missouri Valley) by score of 20-7 on Saturday afternoon in the UNI-Dome, taking over the contest after the visiting Coyotes struck first with a touchdown in the first quarter. 

From there, QB Aaron Bailey got the offense rolling with touchdowns from his arm (14-yard touchdown pass to Braden Lehman) and legs (QB sneak) to put the Panthers up 14-7 at the half.

The third frame belonged to UNI kicker and Waterloo native Michael Schmadeke, who successfully booted kicks from both 48 and 50 yards out to add to UNI's lead going into the fourth quarter.

UNI's defense held strong in a scoreless fourth to preserve the win, coupled with two key punts from Sam Kuhler to pin USD deep in its own territory and discourage any comeback effort. The win propels the Panthers into a match-up with Indiana State (4-3, 2-2 Missouri Valley entering the day) back in the Dome next Saturday.

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