Schneider, Jacks slip past Northern Iowa

It was a day of second chances for SDSU.

As expected, the No. 18 ranked SDSU Jackrabbits and No. 20 University of Northern Iowa Panthers played some riveting football into the final minutes of the game keeping fans at the UNI Dome Saturday night in Cedar Falls, Iowa before the Jackrabbits ultimately defeated the Panthers 31-28.

 Zach Zenner became the second Jackrabbit to cross the 1,000-yard mark in three consecutive seasons, joining Kyle Minett as he helped improve SDSU to 5-2 overall on the season. The UNI Panthers drop to 3-4 on the year.

Jason Schneider came up with a 40-yard game-saving-one-handed catch. Justin Syrovotka drilled a 44-yard field goal to take a 31-28 lead with 2 minutes left in the game. Melvin Taveras sealed the game with his second interception of the season from UNI’s Brion Carnes. Schneider ended the night with a team high of 9 receptions for 117 yards.

UNI’s Ray Mitchell intercepted a tipped ball on a forced pass from Zach Lujan and ran it back 58 yards for the tying touchdown, at 28 all. 

The Panthers recovered an onside kick with about 5 minutes left in the game to give UNI a chance to tie it up, but SDSU’s Jack Sherlock ended the UNI comeback with a sack on fourthand six near midfield.

The Panthers owned the second quarter scoring two touchdowns including a 50-yard touchdown run by David Johnson.

Zach Lujan threw into a pack of Panthers on two occasions. However, Lujan could have thrown for four interceptions, but two were called back on penalties. One interception would have come with about 11 minutes left in the game with a 7-point lead. Lujan ended the game 21-38 passing attempts with 223 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. But the Jackrabbits would go on to score on a 1-yard Zenner run with just under 9 minutes left in the game.  

UNI’s Charles Brown caught a pass on fourth down with less than six minutes to go in the game to keep UNI in it by giving them a first down. UNI’s Johnson punched in a two-yard touchdown closing the gap on SDSU. Brown caught five passes for 43 yards, tying a team high for the night with teammates Chad Owens and Johnson.

The Panthers defense didn’t give Zenner very much running room in the first half despite being on the field quite a bit and limited Zenner to 80 yards on 29 carries.

SDSU will play at home next Saturday for Hobo Day against Youngstown State at 2 p.m. in Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.