Leathernecks primed to pouce on Panthers


Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Sean McGuire looks to make a pass downfield.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois University Fighting Leathernecks (3-4, 2-2) is set to take on the University of Northern Iowa Panthers (4-3, 3-1). Both teams are coming into this matchup with big wins under their belts.

The Leathernecks defeated the Missouri State Bears on the road last week. They were the underdogs, but spoiled the Bear’s homecoming and kept their playoff hopes alive. The Panthers are coming off a stunning victory over the highly ranked South Dakota State Jack Rabbits. No one expected UNI to come away with a victory considering the Jack Rabbits only lost to the No. 1 team in the nation, North Dakota State by four. That loss shook up the Missouri Valley Conference Standings, and catapulted Northern Iowa all the way up to the No. 2 spot in the conference. The two teams go into this contest with the No. 2 spot in the contest up for grabs, and potential playoff spots on the line for the FCS Playoff.

The Leathernecks look to start a win streak coming off their big win last weekend. However, they will have a more challenging task ahead against the Panthers. They will need to be solid on all three phases of the game. Last week they let up a kick return for a touchdown against Missouri State. You cannot let that happen against the Panthers, and have to be superb on every aspect of the game. The offense, in particular, will have to be on point. Sean McGuire is in his final year as starting quarterback, and will need to show why he is the best quarterback Western has ever seen to win out and make the playoffs. Steve McShane is another player to look out for on offense. This game he will be going up against his brother Deion, who plays running back for the Panthers. Not only will he be playing for bragging rights against his brother, but he will also be fighting for a playoff spot.

And with McShane coming off his best game of the season a week ago, look for him to play a big impact in accomplishing both of those goals.

The Northern Iowa Panthers are rolling. They only have three losses on the year and they come to number one, North Dakota State, a Big 10 team in Iowa, and a very tough Big Sky opponent in Montana. A battle tested team, currently second in the Missouri Valley Conference, will look to ride their dynamic offense into their matchup against the Leathernecks. Eli Dunne will lead the charge for UNI. So far, this season, he has amassed 1,400 yards passing, and is looking to continue his dominance for the remainder of the season. The Panthers are ranked fourth in the Missouri Valley with 230 passing yards per game and fifth for most points with 30.1 point per game. However, there are some weaknesses to this Northern Iowa Squad. They have one of the worst rushing attacks in the entire valley. They are eighth in the valley with only 132 rushing yards per contest. If the Leathernecks want to win this game, they will have to shut down the UNI passing attack and make them run the ball. This should be a good one. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. this Saturday at Hanson Field.

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