CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (WKBN) – Youngstown State football suffered a back-and-forth loss at the UNI-Dome against Northern Iowa, falling 44-41 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener.
YSU and UNI traded the lead four times throughout the game, twice in the first half and then twice again in the second.
The Penguins jumped out to an early 10-0 lead after a Mitch Davidson 6-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but UNI would respond with 20 straight points to take a 20-10 lead in the second quarter.
Down by 10 in the third quarter, a blocked punt by wide receiver Bryce Oliver set up the Penguins with great field position inside the UNI 20-yard line. Liberty grad Dra Rushton punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to just three points midway through the third quarter.
Davidson and the offense went back to work, thanks to a Penguins defense three and out, with a six-play touchdown drive capped off by Tyshon King’s 1-yard touchdown to take a 27-23 lead.
Then, after a Youngstown State turnover on downs on the UNI 16-yard line, the Panthers offense finally answered in the fourth quarter to retake a 30-27 lead with less than 11 minutes to play.
UNI would follow it up with a 30-yard touchdown run from Tye Edwards to take a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The Penguins would not quit though, marching down the field 70 yards to cut the lead back down the three after Davidson connected with Oliver in the end zone.
UNI would recover the onside kick and cap it off with a 1-yard touchdown run to ice the game with 1:19 left. YSU would cut the lead back down to three again, but the Panthers again recovered the onside kick to end it.
For YSU, Davidson finished the day with 332 passing yards on 30 for 40 passing, two touchdowns and one interception. He also added 25 rushing yards on seven carries and the rushing score.
Rushton finished with 10 carries for 36 yards and 25 receiving yards and King racked up 40 yards on eight carries and 15 receiving yards, with each of them registering a touchdown.
Oliver led the Penguins in receiving with 111 yards on seven catches and a touchdown while CJ Charleston caught five balls for 88 yards on the day.
The YSU defense was led by Anthony Johnson (two sacks) and Andres Lehermann (one sack), along with Tyjon Jones (interception).
Youngstown State falls to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in Missouri Valley Football Conference play and will return home to take on Southern Illinois on Saturday, October 7 at 6 p.m.