Northern Iowa stays perfect by beating Southern Utah 48-10
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP)—Eric Sanders threw two touchdown passes to Victor Williams and Northern Iowa completed its first unbeaten regular season in 47 years with a 48-10 victory over winless Southern Utah on Saturday night.
Johnny Gray totaled 123 yards running, catching passes and returning punts for the Panthers (11-0), who put themselves in position to receive the No. 1 overall seed when the Football Championship Subdivision playoff pairings are announced Sunday.
That would put Northern Iowa at home for the first three rounds of the playoffs if the Panthers made it that far. Northern Iowa has won 12 straight games dating back to last season, matching the longest winning streak in school history.
The 1960 Northern Iowa team went 9-0 in the regular season, then lost to Hillsdale in the Mineral Water Bowl.
Southern Utah (0-11) had the Panthers in a 3-3 tie after Steve Pulver kicked a 26-yard field goal late in the first quarter. But 11 penalties prevented the Thunderbirds from establishing much consistency on offense and they had no answer for Sanders’ accurate passing and Gray’s speed.
Sanders, playing less than three quarters, went 15 of 21 for 206 yards with no interceptions and touchdown throws of 24 and 12 yards to Williams.
Gray scored on a 24-yard end-around, caught four passes for 39 yards and returned two punts for 60 yards. Billy Hallgren added field goals of 34 and 22 yards for Northern Iowa, which scored on its first five possessions in building a 27-3 lead.
No. 2 quarterback Patrick Grace directed two fourth-quarter scoring drives, finishing the second with a 22-yard option keeper on a fourth-and-1 play.
Northern Iowa intercepted five passes and kept Southern Utah out of the end zone until Johnny Sanchez scored on a 2-yard run with 10:22 left.