Western Illinois' Justin Fitzpatrick, left, pulls down Northern Iowa's Jaylin James in the first half Saturday in Cedar Falls.


CEDAR FALLS – Sean McGuire's 20-yard pass to Jaelon Acklin with six seconds left helped lift No. 15 Western Illinois to a 38-29 victory over Northern Iowa Saturday in Missouri Valley Football Conference action at the UNI-Dome.

The Leathernecks (4-1, 1-1) drove 65 yards in nine plays, converting a 4th and 15 to extend the drive, to score the game winner. UNI fumbled on the ensuing kickoff and it was returned for a touchdown to make it a 11-point victory.

UNI (2-3, 1-1) had taken a 29-25 lead with 1 minute and 12 seconds left when Eli Dunne found Aaron Graham for a 16-yard touchdown play culminating a 16-play, 86-yard drive.

But the Panthers kicked the ball out of bounds on the ensuing kickoff giving the Leathernecks the ball at the 35 to start their game winning drive. It appeared the drive had stalled at the UNI 49, but on 4th and 15, the Panthers lost Brandon Gaston in coverage and he gained 16 to keep WIU going.

UNI led 14-5 at halftime, but a Dunne interception set up a short WIU scoring drive that made it 14-12, and then McGuire hit touchdown passes of 46 to Isaiah LeSure and 38 to Acklin that pushed the Leathernecks to a 25-14 lead.

Western Illinois junior Pete Swenson, who prepped at Clear Lake, had a safety for the Leathernecks in the second quarter. Swenson finished with four tackles, including one sack.

The Panthers responded with scoring drives of 81 and 86, the first resulting in a 18-yard Nissen touchdown reception, his third of the game, and then Graham's catch.

In the end, however, it was not enough for UNI who managed just 22 yards combined in the first and third quarters.

Dunne finished 25 of 41 for 342 yards and four scores and also was intercepted twice. Daurice Fountain had nine catches for 103 yards, his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game.

McGuire was 19 of 34 for 334 yards and three scores, with Acklin hauling in seven balls for 158 yards and two scores.


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