Brandon Hubert caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Austin Sumner in the second overtime, lifting No. 24 South Dakota State to a 37-34 victory over 17th-ranked Northern Iowa Saturday afternoon in Missouri Valley Football Conference action at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
The Jackrabbits improved to 5-4 overall and 2-3 in conference action. UNI dropped to 4-4 overall and 0-4 in the MVFC. The loss was the Panthers’ third overtime loss in as many weeks.
After intercepting a pass at the SDSU 28-yard line with less than four minutes to play, UNI had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. However, Tyler Sievertsen, who had made field goals of 40 and 41 yards earlier in the game, pushed a 30-yard attempt wide right as time expired.
In the first overtime, the two squads traded field goals — SDSU’s Justin Syrovatka connected on a 26-yarder, with Sievertsen answering from 25.
UNI took a 34-31 lead in the second overtime on a 23-yard field goal by Sievertsen.
SDSU’s winning drive got off to a rocky start as Zach Zenner was dropped for a five-yard loss. After a Sumner-to-Jason Schneider pass gained eight yards, Sumner scrambled for eight yards on third-and-7 for a first down. On the next play, Sumner found Hubert open in the right flat for the winning score from 14 yards out.
After allowing a UNI field goal on the opening drive of the game, the Jackrabbits got on the board late in the first quarter thanks to its special teams unit. Je Ryan Butler fielded a bouncing punt at his own 20-yard line and streaked through the Panther defense for an 80-yard touchdown.
The Jackrabbits built the lead to 14-3 on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Sumner to Jason Schneider with 9 minutes, 50 seconds to play in the second quarter, capping a 10-play, 72-yard drive.
UNI drew within 14-13 at halftime on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Sawyer Kollmorgen to Kevin Vereen with 1:09 to play in the first half.
SDSU scored on its first possession of the second half as Zenner weaved his way around left end for a 17-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers scored a pair of touchdowns less than four minutes apart later in the third quarter to regain the lead. Taking advantage of a short field after a long kickoff return, UNI drew back to one point on a 12-yard pass from Kollmorgen to Evan Williams, then took the lead on a 38-yard touchdown pass by Kollmorgen to Braden Lehman. The ensuing two-point conversion was good as Kollmorgen hooked up with Shawn Rush to give the Panthers a 28-21 lead.
But SDSU came right back with another long scoring drive late in the third quarter to knot the game at 28. The eight-play, 73-yard drive ended with a 10-yard pass from Sumner to Hubert for what would be the first of two touchdowns for the tandem in the game.
Hubert set career highs with nine catches for 118 yards. Schneider added eight receptions for 76 yards. Sumner finished the afternoon 22-of-34 passing for 239 yards.
Zenner again reached the 100-yard mark, tallying 106 yards on 31 carries.
For UNI, Kollmorgen finished the game 30-of-40 passing for 306 yards. Chad Owens tallied nine catches for 67 yards, while David Johnson caught eight passes for 48 yards. Johnson also gained 65 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
R.C. Kilgore led all players with 15 tackles for SDSU. Zach Cutkomp made 11 stops to lead UNI.
The Jackrabbits will have their lone bye week of the season before closing out home action Nov. 9 against Indiana State. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
NOTES: UNI leads the all-time series, 28-18-2 … the Panthers have won six of the eight meetings in the Division I era for both schools, with both SDSU victories coming at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium (2009, 2013) … Hubert moved into a tie for eighth place with Darren Baartman (1988-91) for career receptions at SDSU with 128, breaking a tie with Solomon Johnson (119 receptions from 2001-04) for 10th place and passing Dennis Thomas (127 receptions from 1982-85) for ninth … Zenner moved into third place in Jackrabbit career rushing with 3,749 yards, moving past Anthony Watson (3,712 yards from 2003-06) … Zenner surpassed the 100-yard mark for the eighth time this season and 17th time in his career … Kilgore registered double figures in tackles for the third consecutive game and sixth time this season … freshman defensive lineman Cole Langer made his first career start and ended a UNI drive late in the third quarter by forcing a fumble on a quarterback sack … attendance for the Hall of Fame Game and Military Appreciation Day was 7,912