CARBONDALE, Ill. — Eli Dunne was 26-of-36 passing for 266 yards and three touchdowns and the Northern Iowa defense forced three fourth-quarter turnovers to help Panthers beat Southern Illinois 24-17 on Saturday night in the Missouri Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Daurice Fountain had seven catches for 106 yards and a score and Trevor Allen had 75 yards rushing on 18 carries and added an 11-yard touchdown reception for Northern Iowa (2-2).
Sam Drysdale kicked a 45-yard field goal to give Northern Iowa a 3-0 lead with 4:01 left in the first quarter and, after the Salukis went three-and-out, Dunne’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Fountain made it 10-0 early in the second. Matt Sotiropoulos hit a 32-yard field goal put Southern Illinois on the board with 4:24 left in the half, but a 42-yard reception by Fountain set up a 4-yard TD catch by Elias Nessen that made it 17-3 at the break.
Kyron Watson forced, and then recovered, a fumble by Allen and, four plays later, Sam Straub hit Jacob Varble for a 5-yard touchdown that pulled the Salukis to 24-17 with 11:17 to play, but the Panthers forced turnovers on each of Southern Illinois’ next three possessions — including an interception by Jake Hartford at the 3 with 1:47 remaining.