Penguins Fall to UNI On Final-Play Field Goal, 22-20

Julius Childs
Julius Childs

Cedar Falls, Iowa - The No. 8 Youngstown State football team led 14-3 at halftime, and by eight in the fourth quarter, but UNI clawed back and defeated the Penguins 22-20 on a last-play 34-yard field goal by Tyler Sievertsen as time expired on Saturday at the UNI-Dome.

The loss drops the Penguins to 8-2 overall and 5-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Panthers snapped a five-game losing streak and are now 5-5 and 1-5. YSU had won six straight and eight consecutive MVFC games entering Saturday's game.

After floundering for the better part of the second half, YSU found some offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter. Trailing 19-14 with just under 10 minutes remaining, the Penguins took over at their own 22-yard line.

YSU briskly moved 78 yards in 13 plays and regained the lead when Kurt Hess scored from four yards out with 4:41 left. Leading 20-19, the Guins went for two, but a gimpy Hess had to throw the ball away keeping the contest at 20-19.

The Panthers took over with 4:41 left and used 14 plays to march to YSU's 17-yard line. With four seconds left, UNI called time out to set up Sievertsen's attempt. After two YSU timeouts, Sievertsen converted the kick handing the Guins their seventh straight defeat in the UNI-Dome dating back to 1999.

For the game, the Penguins had 320 yards of total offense while UNI had 380.

Hess completed 15-of-22 passes for 207 yards and a score. He rushed for 20 yards on seven attempts and had a career-high two scores.

YSU took a 14-3 halftime lead behind a passing and throwing score by Hess.

UNI struck first driving down field on its first possession to take a 3-0 lead. Sievertsen kicked a 49-yard field goal with 11:52 left in the period to put the Panthers on the board.

The Guins responded with a well run 10-play, 75-yard drive. On third-and-two from the three, Hess called his own number and scored to put YSU ahead 7-3 at the 6:42 mark of the period.

In the second quarter, YSU had a third-and-six at the UNI 8-yard line, but Hess threw a scoring pass to Andre Stubbs at the 6:20 mark.

For the first half, UNI outgained the Penguins 187-175. Hess was 8-of-9 for 118 yards and a score.

In the third quarter, Sievertsen knocked through a 37-yard field goal to get the Panthers within 14-6 entering the final period.

Two Penguin miscues and some strong play by UNI backup quarterback Biron Carnes brought the Panthers back in the final 14 minutes.

The first was a blocked YSU punt with 13:36 left. UNI took over at the Guins' 14-yard line and on third down, Carnes hit Chad Owens for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 9:58 left. The two-point conversion failed leaving the Penguins on top 14-12.

On the ensuing kickoff, Martin Ruiz was stripped of the ball and UNI recovered at the Penguins' 37-yard line. Again on third down, this time from the YSU two-yard line, Carnes found Owens for a score to give the Panthers a 19-14 advantage with 9:58 remaining in the game.

The Penguins return home to play host to top-ranked and unbeaten North Dakota State next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.