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NDSU's 33-game winning streak ends with 23-3 loss at Northern Iowa

North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz leaves Sheriff field Saturday, Nov. 11, 2014, after the 23-3 loss at the UNI Dome in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. David Samson / The Forum

Saturday at the UNI-Dome, all three played a role in finishing off the top-ranked Bison, ending a historic NCAA Division I FCS winning streak. Johnson rushed for a game-high 133 yards as the Panthers powered to a 23-3 victory in Missouri Valley Football Conference play before 14,777 fans.

“There was definitely some extra incentive in this game for me,” said Farley, who broke his leg late in NDSU’s 24-23 comeback win last season in the Fargodome before being taken to a local hospital. “They are all big games, but this one feels good.”

The Bison (9-1, 5-1 MVFC) had their FCS record 33-game winning streak snapped, losing on the road for the first time since Dec. 11, 2010. That last road setback was 38-31 overtime loss at Eastern Washington in the FCS quarterfinals.

“It’s a great streak,” said Bison senior safety Colten Heagle, the only current player who played in that Eastern Washington game. “It’s over. We’re moving on.”

UNI (6-4, 4-2) scored the game’s first 10 points and never trailed. The Bison didn’t score their first points until the final three minutes of the third quarter.

“It was a great win,” Northern Iowa head coach Mark Farley said. “That’s the only way to beat a team like that is play four quarters. We attacked.”

Kilfoy helped shift the momentum in the Panthers favor in the second quarter. With the Bison facing a third-and-8 at the Northern Iowa 11-yard line, the 6-foot-1, 212-pounder picked off a deflected pass near the goal line and returned the interception up the sideline 45 yards. A Bison penalty during the return tacked on an extra 15, moving the ball to the NDSU 37.

“That was a huge play,” Mark Farley said. “We knew we had to stop them in the red zone if we were going to win a football game like this.”

Four plays later, the Panthers were in the end zone after quarterback Brion Carnes scored on a 6-yard touchdown run. That gave Northern Iowa a 7-0 lead with 3 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the first half. The Panthers controlled the momentum from that point.

“I think it was a big momentum swing in their favor,” said Bison quarterback Carson Wentz, who completed 15 of 25 passes for 132 yards with the one interception to Kilfoy.

NDSU tried to climb back into the game late in the third quarter after C.J. Smith returned a punt 30 yards to the Northern Iowa 12. The Bison, however, had to settle for a field goal after getting stuffed on a third-and-1 play at the Panthers 3. An Adam Keller 20-yard field goal cut Northern Iowa lead to 10-3 with 2:27 to play in the third quarter.

“We knew that this was going to be a fight for four quarters,” said Jake Farley, who had a team-high nine tackles. “We knew we just had to keep pounding.”

The Panthers buried the Bison in the fourth quarter, scoring the game’s final 13 points. Northern Iowa junior running back Darrian Miller put an exclamation on the victory with a 30-yard touchdown burst. That gave the Panthers a 23-3 lead with 5:04 remaining.

“We got stronger as the game moved forward,” said Mark Farley, who added this victory ranks among the top 5 in his coaching career.

The Panthers rushed for 213 yards on 44 attempts, while holding the Bison to 43 rushing yards on 28 carries. A few hundred Northern Iowa fans stormed the field after the final horn sounded.

“We got beat today, but come Monday we’ll make sure no one is pointing any fingers,” Bison head coach Chris Klieman said. “I don’t think that will happen. I would rather lose today than lose in December. … We are still 9-1 and we control our own destiny.”

Eric Peterson
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.

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