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CEDAR FALLS – It wasn’t flashy, but it didn’t have to be.

Northern Iowa’s defense allowed just 105 yards and forced five turnovers as the Panthers dominated St. Thomas, 44-3, Saturday in UNI’s home opener at the UNI-Dome.

The victory moved the 15th-ranked Panthers to 2-1 heading into its bye week before hosting Youngstown State on Oct. 2.

"I’m pleased because of what we can learn and what we can get done this week based off what we learned the first three weeks,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said.

Matthew Cook kicked three field goals while UNI racked up 380 total yards of offense.

Dom Williams and Vance McShane each had touchdown runs, while Isaiah Weston turned short hitch route into a 60-yard touchdown.

Benny Sapp III had two of UNI’s interceptions and Stefan Black II had the other. With 55 seconds left in the game, Sean Wendel returned a bobbled punt snap 12 yards for the Panthers final touchdown. 

St. Thomas, in its first season at FCS level while transitioning from Division III, scored its only points on a Louis Hyde 35-yard field goal in the second quarter.

In his first start at quarterback for UNI, Theo Day went 18 of 31 for 193 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Weston had five catches for 86 yards, while Williams rushed seven times for 73 yards. UNI had 190 rushing yards on 30 carries. 

UNI lead 17-3 at halftime.

Williams ripped off a 36-yard touchdown run on the Panthers’ opening possession.

Matthew Cook drilled a 42-yard field goal that made it 10-0 with 6:46 left in the half, and Vance McShane sprinted through a huge hole for a 41-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter for a 17-0 lead.

St Thomas scored after Day instead throwing the ball away tried to thread a pass along the sideline and was picked off. The Tommies turned that turnover into a Hyde 36-yard field goal with 1:50 left to half.

This article originally ran on wcfcourier.com.

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