CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Terrell Sinkfield caught two touchdown passes and David Johnson bulled in for the Panthers' final score with less than two minutes remaining, as the No. 6-ranked University of Northern Iowa football team escaped with a 21-17 victory over Youngstown State on Saturday evening in the UNI-Dome.
Trailing 17-14 and facing a fourth-and-goal at the Youngstown State one-yard-line with less than three minutes remaining in the game, UNI elected to go for the touchdown. Johnson took a handoff and was initially stopped short of the goal line, but he drove into the endzone on his second effort to give the Panthers a 20-14 lead.
Redshirt freshman Jared Lanpher started at quarterback for UNI, filling in for the injured Tirrell Rennie and completing 16-of-28 passes for 238 yards. Senior Jarred Herring led UNI in receiving, hauling in six passes for 84 yards. Sinkfield had three catches for 69 yards, including touchdown receptions of 32 and 31 yards in the first half.
Senior linebacker and Buck Buchanan Award candidate L.J. Fort once again led the Panther defense, this time racking up 13 tackles. Senior Jordan Smith recorded 10 tackles and his fourth interception of the season, and J.J. Swain and James Conley each tallied nine stops.
With the win, UNI head coach Mark Farley moved into second place all-time at UNI, earning his 96th career victory as the Panthers' head coach.
Youngstown State received the opening kickoff and put together an 11-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a David Brown 28-yard field goal. With 9:40 remaining in the first quarter, the Penguins led 3-0.
UNI responded on its first possession with a nine-play, 78-yard drive that culminated with Lanpher finding Terrell Sinkfield for a 32-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 7-3 lead with 5:37 left in the first quarter.
Youngstown State reclaimed the lead late in the second quarter when Jamaine Cook dove over the pile for a touchdown from one yard out, giving the Penguins a 10-7 lead with only 0:27 remaining in the second quarter.
Jarred Herring returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the UNI 39-yard line. From there, Lanpher connected on a 30-yard pass to Brett LeMaster and a 31-yard scoring strike to Sinkfield that put the Panthers back in front 14-10 with six seconds left in the first half.
After a scoreless third quarter, YSU regained the lead when quarterback Kurt Hess hit tight end Will Shaw for a 38-yard touchdown pass with 13:42 left in the game. With Brown's PAT, the Penguins held a 17-14 lead.
UNI and YSU traded punts twice before the Panthers embarked on their game-winning drive. Johnson carried seven times and pulled in a 32-yard reception on UNI's final drive before finding the endzone from one yard out with 1:59 left in the game.
Junior Garrett Scott clinched the victory for the Panthers with an interception of Hess at the UNI 39-yard line with 46 seconds remaining.
The Penguins outgained UNI 293-268 in the contest, but the Panthers held a plus-two advantage in turnovers with the interceptions by Smith and Scott.
UNI will return to action when it hosts Southern Utah on Nov. 12 in the UNI-Dome. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m.
NOTES: UNI has won 11 games in a row against Youngstown State since Mark Farley took over as the Panthers' head coach in 2001 ... L.J. Fort has now recorded 11 or more tackles in each of the Panthers' nine games this season ... sophomore kicker Tyler Sievertsen is now a perfect 28-of-28 on PATS this year ... YSU ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 40.0 points per game entering this contest ... only Michigan State (6) has held the Penguins to fewer points this season.