A pair of tentative offenses traded field goals in the opening quarter, with Iowa State driving deep into Northern Iowa territory only to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Adam Benike. The score came at the 3:47 mark of the opening quarter. Austin Flynn did much of the work for ISU, breaking loose for a 19-yard run after connecting with Lance Young for 46 yards to open the drive.
Northern Iowa answered with the leg of Brian Stegall, who booted a 46-yard field goal at the 1:04 mark. UNI's drive opened at its own 20-yard line and was aided with a crucial third-down personal foul penalty on Tyson Smith.
Flynn's first touchdown pass of his career highlighted the early going of the second session. His 13-yard strike to Jack Whitver 2:52 into the quarter gave ISU a 10-3 lead. A Panther off-side call on 3rd-and-10 kept Benike on the sidelines and gave Flynn another opportunity. The Cyclones opted for backup Michael Wagner throughout the drive and the senior responded by rushing five times for 33 yards.
UNI failed to answer this time and netted just one first down on its next two drives. But a gift in the form of a deflected pass from Flynn and Justin Sandy interception set the Panthers up for a game-tying touchdown. On 2nd-and-goal from the one, Terrence Freeney sprinted into the end zone and evened the score at 10-10 with 3:29 remaining in the half.
Deflected passes at the line of scrimmage continued to haunt Flynn, as a pair of his attempts were batted down on the ensuing drive. As a result, ISU went three-and-out.
Looking for a spark heading into the locker room at halftime, the Cyclones mounted a drive in the two-minute offense. Wagner rushed 29 yards on the opening play, then Flynn took over with carries for five and 16 more. ISU set up at the UNI 30-yard line and looked set for a Tony Yelk field goal attempt. However, with time running down, coaches opted for one more play. That was one too many as Lance Young wasn't able to get out of bounds to stop the clock.
In desperate need of some offense, ISU finally got it late in the quarter when it went 80 yards over eight plays and got a touchdown scramble from Flynn. The Cyclone quarterback completed all three of his passes for 71 yards on the drive, hitting Jamaul Montgomery, Lance Young and Lane Danielsen. Danielsen's reception provided 48 of those yards and set ISU up with 1st-and-goal at the five.
The Cyclones' go-ahead score was the only highlight in a quarter full of offensive struggles, as both teams went to ground-oriented attacks. UNI was unable to answer ISU's late score, punted after a three-and-out and turned possession over to the Cyclones near midfield.
Advantage: Iowa State.
Looking for a two-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones again failed to make a big play. Flynn dropped back on 3rd-and-10 and sailed a pass deep for Montgomery. However, the senior wideout dropped a sure touchdown and ISU was forced to punt.
UNI opened the ensuing drive at its own eight-yard line and utilized the running of Freeney in taking the ball past midfield. He rushed six times for 26 yards and Petrie connected on a pair of passes for 21 yards. However, an offensive holding call would ultimately end the threat.
Already thin at some spots because of a few broken bones in training camp, ISU suffered another big loss when Tyson Smith went down and was carted off due an apparent broken leg. Freshman phenom Jason Berryman subbed in for the injured senior.
But after an ISU three-and-out, the Panthers would get another opportunity to tie the game with just over six minutes remaining. UNI again struggled to get past midfield after Petrie took a costly sack for a 13-yard loss. Two plays later the Panthers were forced to punt.
Advantage: Iowa State.