When the stakes were higher, the UNI Panthers couldn't duplicate the success they had at South Dakota State earlier this season. The 21st-ranked Panthers scratched and clawed their way through the rematch with their Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) rivals, but they couldn't pounce on the Jackrabbits Saturday afternoon (Dec. 2, 2017).

No. 6 South Dakota (10-2) State ended UNI's season with a 37-22 victory over the Panthers in the second-round of the NCAA FSC playoffs at Dykhouse Stadium. The outcome was a complete reversal of their first meeting in Brookings, S.D. on Oct. 14, when UNI beat the Jackrabbits, 38-18.

On Saturday, SDSU scored on all five of its first-half possessions to built a 26-7 lead at halftime. The Panthers outscored the home team, 15-11, in the second half, but the halftime deficit was too much for them to overcome.

Junior quarterback Eli Dunne led UNI's passing attack, throwing for 287 yards and a touchdown. Briley Moore was the team's top receiver, catching six balls for 90 yards. Defensively, senior Duncan Ferch led the Panthers with 12 tackles on the day, while linebacker Jared Farley posted 10 in his final game. Seniors Keelon Brookins and Adam Reth each recorded a sack for the Panthers.

SDSU’s Taryn Christion scored four touchdowns, with three coming in the air. Dallas Goedert caught six of Christion’s passes, for 83 yards and a touchdown.

The Jackrabbits out-gained UNI 380-369 in total yardage and owned a 143-82 advantage on the ground. The Jackrabbits scored on their first five drives before Blake Thomas’ interception late in the third quarter ended their run.

Leading 3-0 early, SDSU’s first touchdown came on a fourth and goal conversion from the two-yard line, following a Christion pass that found Cade Johnson for the score with 3:43 left in the first quarter.

Down 10-0, UNI pounded the ball with a combo rushing attack from Marcus Weymiller and Trevor Allen to set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Dunne to Daurice Fountain. The Jackrabbits took a kickoff 70 yards the following possession and found three points after a 55-yard field goal from Chase Vinateiri.

With the Jackrabbits leading 13-7, SDSU converted its second fourth down of the game after Christion sprinted up the middle for the 21-yard touchdown. The Jackrabbits went for two points after the score, but their pass fell to the ground to leave the score at 19-7 with 4:19 remaining in the half. Christion scored his third touchdown of the game just before the break, this time through the air as he floated a pass to Dallas Goedert for 28 yards.

The two squads wouldn’t score until 12:03 remaining in the fourth quarter as SDSU’s Christion threw a 30-yard touchdown to Jacob Brown, before the Jackrabbits earned a two-point conversion to go up 34-7.

The Panthers wouldn’t relinquish however, as UNI outscored SDSU 15-3 to close out the game. Both scores would be one-yard touchdown runs, as Farley and Trevor Allen punched in scores before the Dunne found Jalen Rima for a two-point conversion to leave the final margin at 37-22.

More From Q98.5