Thunderbirds Drop Road Contest to Northern Iowa

The Thunderbird football team fell to 0-2 on the season Saturday evening at the UNI-Dome, as they lost to the No. 11/12 ranked Panthers of Northern Iowa 34-14.

“We can’t beat ourselves,” SUU head coach Demario Warren said. “We’ve got to make sure that we’re being disciplined, and when we are we’re moving the football. But once we get moving we usually get a penalty and end up behind the sticks, and you can’t recover from stuff like that especially on the road.”

Neither team was able to strike for the majority of the opening quarter, but the Panthers eventually got on the scoreboard with 2:10 to play in the frame as Will McElvain found Deion McShane from 56 yards away to put UNI up 7-0.

Over the course of the second quarter the Panthers would up their lead 24-0 and take that advantage into the halftime break.

UNI quarterback McElvain had 234 yards and three touchdowns through the air in the opening half for the Panthers.

The home team would add another field goal and a touchdown through the course of the third quarter, but the Thunderbirds were finally able to get on the board near the end of the period.

Starting quarterback Chris Helbig scored his second rushing touchdown of the season to cap off an 11 play, 75 yard drive to cut into the Panther lead 34-7.

After the T-Birds forced turnovers on back-to-back possessions, they were able to drive the ball into the red zone, but were unable to convert.

The T-Birds were able to break into the endzone one more time before the contest came to a close, as Helbig picked up his second rushing touchdown to make the final score 34-14. That score came with less than a minute on the clock.

Helbig finished the night with 16 completions for 126 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Lance Lawson was the top target on the night for the T-Birds, catching seven passes for 57 yards.

Nela Otukolo led the team in tackles with six total. This is the second-consecutive week he’s been the top player on the team in that category. Kyle HannemannAlex SimsAJ Stanley and Lehi Afatasi all had five tackles for the Thunderbirds.

The Thunderbirds will host their home opener against the Lumberjacks of Stephen F. Austin next Saturday at Eccles Coliseum.

Story and Photo Courtesy of: SUU Atheltics