Northern Iowa Beats Rain And Portland State With Strong Rushing Attack

Northern Iowa quarterback Aaron Bailey breaks into the secondary against Portland State. (David Blair/Portland Tribune)Special to College Sports Journal


Editor’s note: This story is courtesy of UNI athletics.


PORTLAND, OR. — With its rushing attack functioning on all cylinders the University of Northern Iowa football team picked up a decisive 29-17 win over No. 6 seeded Portland State in the cold and rain on Saturday night, advancing to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs. 


UNI (9-4)  finished the game with two rushers with over 200 yards on the ground, totaling 401 as a team. Tyvis Smith rushed for a career-high 207 yards, adding two touchdown while Aaron Bailey threw in 200 yards on the ground and two more rushing scores.


On defense, Jared Farley notched a game-high 12 tackles, also grabbing a key interception.


Brett McMakin had UNI’s second interception of the game, also racking up 10 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss. Isaac Ales turned in a strong performance after moving to defensive tackle, recording eight tackles, one sack and two tackles for a loss of nine yards.


After both teams started with quick three-and-outs, UNI was able to jump on the scoreboard after Smith punched in a three-yard rushing touchdown. The Panthers’ scoring drive burned 4:45 off the clock for 11 plays and 66 yards, giving them a 7-0 lead with 5:47 left in the first quarter.


Portland State (9-3) cut the UNI lead to four points when Jonathan Gonzales converted on a 32-yard field goal with 13:18 to play in the second quarter. The field goal ended a 15-play, 47-yard drive that took 4:49 off the clock to make 7-3.


The Panthers answered, extending their lead to 13-3 after Bailey broke tackle after tackle for a 1-yard rushing touchdown, giving him sole possession of the UNI record for rushing touchdowns in a season at 18. The play ended at the 2:38 mark in the second quarter, wrapping up a four-play, 80-yard drive for 1:46.


Senior Michael Schmadeke put up three more points for the Panthers heading into halftime, knocking in a 44-yard field goal to give UNI a 16-3 advantage. The final points of the second quarter ended a six-play, 38-yard drive that took 1:20 off the clock.


Portland State opened scoring in the second half, taking advantage of a 16-yard pass from Alex Kuresa to Chase Loftin, cutting the UNI lead to 16-10 with 8:22 left in the third quarter. The scoring drive took 4:01 off the clock for nine plays and 68 yards.


Bailey brought in his second rushing touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter, putting UNI up 23-10 at the 14:33 mark. Bailey broke to the outside and outran the entire Portland State defense for a 69-yard run, ending a 12 second drive for one-play.


The Vikings didn’t let up, scoring just two minutes later on a nine-yard rush from David Jones to cut the UNI lead to 23-17. The rushing touchdown burned up 2:16 for seven plays and 73 yards, ending with 12:11 on the clock in the fourth quarter.


After a key sack from Karter Schult to force a fourth down for the Vikings, UNI’s offense got to work quickly, scoring on the first play of its drive. Smith broke free down the middle for a 59-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game, making it 29-17 with 8:02 remaining in the game.


Smith’s touchdown would be the last score of the game after UNI regained possession thanks to an interception from McMakin with 5:54 left in the game. The Panthers ran out the clock, securing a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinal game against North Dakota State.


The game against North Dakota State will take place in the FargoDome next Saturday. The game will air live on ESPN at 11 a.m. CT.


Post-Game Notes vs. Portland State

  • UNI captains against Portland State were Braden Lehman, Isaac Ales, Jacob Ratchmacher and Tim Kilfoy.
  • UNI advanced to the FCS quarterfinals for the 13th time in school history. UNI has now advanced to the quarterfinals 13 out of their 18 appearances.
  • Portland State is the fifth team in the Top-10 that UNI has faced this season and the eighth team in the Top-25. UNI now has 79 wins over Top-25 opponents in school history and 20 wins over Top-10 opponents since 2001. The Panthers are 7-2 this season against ranked opponents.
  • Tyvis Smith has scored a rushing touchdown in four consecutive games for the Panthers, punching in a three-yard rushing score against Portland State. He holds the two longest rushing touchdowns by a running back on the team this season (56 yards vs. Missouri State | 51 yards vs. Southern Illinois).
  • With his two rushing touchdowns against Portland State, Aaron Bailey set a UNI record for rushing touchdowns in a season (19) and rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback. He also broke the Missouri Valley Football Conference record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback and rushing yards in a season by a quarterback (1,301).
  • UNI has had two 100-yard rushers in three of the last four games, finishing the game against Portland State with both Aaron Bailey and Tyvis Smith rushing for over 200 yards.
  • Karter Schult picked up two tackles for loss against Portland State, giving him 22 on the season. The 22 TFL gives him the UNI record, passing John Hermann who had 20.5 in 2005.
  • Tyvis Smith finished the game with a career-high 207 yards on 21 carries while Aaron Bailey had a career-high 200 yards on 26 carries. The last time UNI had a 200-yard rusher was against Missouri State in 2014 when David Johnson picked up 205 yards.
  • Aaron Bailey‘s 1,301 rushing yards this season ranks him fifth all-time at UNI in rushing yards in a single-season.
  • UNI’s 3,146 net rushing yards this season is a new school record for team rushing yards in a season. It passes the 2,956 that the Panthers had in 2007.