MACOMB, IL- The Western Illinois Leathernecks (0-5) hosted the University of Northern Iowa Panthers (3-3) at Hanson Field this weekend. The Panthers were heavy favorites coming into the game, but the Leathernecks were able to put up a respectable fight in front of their home crowd.
The game started off fast. As back-up quarterback Justin Fomby uncorked a deep ball to Isiah Weston who connects for a 75-yard touchdown to open up the ball game. After the big first play, things began to slow down for both sides. It was not until the ten minute mark in the second quarter when things began to heat up when the Leatherenecks started to drive on the Panthers tough defense. To caps off an 11 play, 58 yard drive, Connor Sampson would find Daniel Bender on a 10-yard passing touchdown to knot things up with Northern Iowa.
Things went back into a stalemate until late in the the first half. The Panthers were able to put the pressure on the Leathernecks after knocking down a 28-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead with only 36 seconds remaining in the half. Western Illinois would fight all the way back after a few nice passes from Sampson who put the Leathernecks in a position to tie things up with a long field goal attempt. Howver, Matthew Cook’s kick would be blocked by Omar Brown, and returned all the way back for a UNI touchdown as time expired. Instead of going into the break tied at 10, they would go in trailing by two scores, 7-17.
Despite Connor Sampson’s career day on the offensive side of the ball throwing for 355 yards and two scores. It was not enough to keep pace with the Panthers, and could not limit their mistakes. Coach Jared Elliott had this to say about the matchup.
“We’ll get there. We have a bunch of guys that are fighting their tails off, battling all the way to the end. I love this team for that. I’m very proud of them, but there were way too many self-inflicted wounds today. Too many penalties today. There’s just a lot to clean up. We have a lot of young guys that need to mature in a hurry for us, and we’ve got to find the right balance to play more team complimentary football here.” (GoLeathernecks.com)
Western Illinois will look to get their first win of the season against the Youngstown State Penguins. Kickoff is set for 7PM from Hanson Field.