Facebook Twitter

T-Birds can’t match Panthers’ potent `O’

SHARE T-Birds can’t match Panthers’ potent `O’

From the beginning, it was apparent the Thunderbirds were doomed. Northern Iowa jumped on Southern Utah early, and the Thunderbirds were never able to recover as the Panthers rolled to a 53-33 victory Saturday.

Even coming within four points of tying the game early on didn't give the Thunderbirds the edge they needed. Quarterback Joe DuPaix was knocked out of the game, allowing SUU's freshman quarterback Matt Cannon to come in and spice up the offense. Cannon helped lead the 'Birds back from an 18-point first half deficit, throwing for two touchdowns in the second quarter to make the score 18-14.The Panthers then rallied after an SUU fumble at the Panther 41-yard line. One play later Northern Iowa scored again when Shane Fortney hit Mike Furrey with a 59-yard pass play to take a 25-14 lead into the half.

"You can't spot somebody 18 points and expect to win," said SUU coach Ray Gregory. "We didn't get any breaks tonight."

The second half was more of the same, with SUU finding ways to score, but unable to stop the Northern Iowa offensive attack. The Panthers gained 511 total yards, 388 coming through the air. Terry Holliman scored three touchdowns for NIU.

Northern Iowa's yardage total was the most the SUU defense has given up this season. The Thunderbirds managed to rush for 299 yards, with strong outings by Cannon and Brook Madsen who each ran for 116 yards.

A controversial call in the third quarter changed the outcome of the game. As the Panthers drove with a third-and-goal, Holliman fumbled the ball at the goal line. It was recovered by SUU. One official overruled the call and said it was a touchdown because the ball had broken the plane of the goal line. "That was a big momentum changer," Gregory said.