MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois could not overcome an early deficit and eventually fell in Missouri Valley Football Conference play 40-0 to Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon at Hanson Field. It marked the first time the Leathernecks (3-6 overall, 1-5 Missouri Valley Football Conference) were shutout at home since 1994.
Pinned deep in its own territory, Western went 3-and-out on the opening drive. The snap sailed over the head of punter Pat Smith and out of the endzone for a safety. After the free kick UNI took over at its own 41, and needed three plays to score. Sawyer Kollmorgen threw a 10-yard TD pass to Chad Owns and less than five minutes into the game Western was down 9-0.
"It probably caused a lot of momentum there's no question in their favor. The momentum of the game certainly changed earlier than we wanted it to," said Western head coach Mark Hendrickson referring to the safety and quick score by UNI. "Our guys continued to fight to the end, but just didn't play as well as we wanted to play."
Kollmorgen threw two more TD passes in the first half, three yards to Terrell Sinkfield and 23 yards to Sam Rohr. Garrett Scott intercepted a tipped pass and took it 20 yards in for a score as UNI led 30-0 at the half.
Western's defense held the Panthers (3-6, 2-4) to 10 points in the second half. The offense did have a great scoring opportunity in the fourth quarter. Jonathon Rollins forced a fumble on Carlos Anderson, and it was recovered by Jean-Marc Charles on the UNI 21.
Hayden Northern scrambled for a first down on a 12-yard run. But on the next play he was picked off in the endzone by Varmah Sonie.
The Leathernecks were held to 172 total yards (71 rushing, 101 passing), and the Panthers held the edge thanks to 303 rushing yards (413 total).
"Two hungry teams played today. UNI played better than we did from all four quarters. That part is very frustrating. We have a group of young men that gave it all they have," said Hendrickson. "As long as we get the effort there's a lot we can do with this team. No doubt disappointed in the end, this was a tough loss."
Redshirt-freshman J.J. Raffelson made a game-high 11 tackles while David McDaniel set a career-high with 10 stops. Martinez Davis broke up three passes. The defense again came away with multiple turnovers, recording two thanks to an interception and fumble recovery. That now makes seven games where the Leathernecks have recorded at least two takeaways.
David Johnson rushed for 149 yards and a TD. Kollmorgen was 11-of-17 with an interception for 94 yards. J.J. Swain led the UNI defense with seven tackles.
Western closes out its home schedule next Saturday (Nov. 10), playing host to Youngstown State. Kickoff at Hanson Field scheduled for 1 p.m.
GAME NOTES: True-freshman Malik Johnson made the second start of
his career at wide receiver... Kyle
Robiskie caught the first two passes of his career... Raffelson recorded
double-digit tackles for the fourth time this season. He extended his team lead
to 85 tackles... Western was sacked four times... UNI was 10-of-15 on third downs, while
Western was 4-of-14... Trey Garvey recorded
his first-ever interception, giving the defense 14 this season. Those 14 are
the most since the 2004 Leatherneck defense recorded 17 picks... Once again,
Western's freshmen that played outnumbered the seniors 13-to-12... The last time
Western was shutout was last year at Missouri... The loss clinched the second
straight losing season for Western, and the Leathernecks need a home win next
weekend to finish .500 at Hanson Field... The loss was also the team's fourth
straight and six of the last seven. In those seven games, Western has scored
just three offensive touchdowns... The interception in the redzone ended Western's
perfect percentage of scoring, entering the game 14-of-14 this season.