BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) Aaron Bailey ran for 169 yards and the game-winning score as Northern Iowa picked up its first conference win on Saturday with a 10-7 victory over South Dakota State.
Bailey also had 113 yards passing for the Panthers (3-4, 1-3 Missouri Valley Conference). He outperformed the entire South Dakota State offense with 282 total yards. The Panthers' defense held the Jackrabbits (5-2, 2-2) to 259 yards total and to just 71 yards in the first half.
Bailey's game-winning 35-yard touchdown run came with the Panthers trailing 7-3 and capped a five-play, 79-yard drive with 6:04 left in the third quarter.
But Northern Iowa defensive lineman Karter Schult can be credited with preserving the Panthers' winning lead.
Trailing 10-7 with 1:31 to play, South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Northern Iowa 10 rather than try a tying field goal. Running back Kyle Paris took a direct snap but lost a yard after Schult raced in from the left and disrupted the play before it got started. Northern Iowa took over and ran out the clock to notch its first MVFC win of the season.
''We needed to catch and break, we needed to make a break happen and we did that on fourth down'' Panthers coach Mark Farley said. ''You can swing a whole season on a couple of plays and this is one of those we can build momentum on.''
The Jackrabbits had marched 68 yards in 12 plays and burned 6:21 off the clock before the drive stalled.
''This one's on me,'' Stiegelmeier said. ''We played well enough to win this game. I didn't coach well enough. I didn't make the right decisions. That's not acceptable. There were a lot of guys that played their tails off today and I didn't get it done.''
Northern Iowa gained 188 yards in the first half but managed just three points on a Michael Schmadeke 24-yard field goal with 2:43 to play in the half. Schmadeke missed a 56-yard attempt with 18 seconds before the break.
The Jackrabbits led 7-3 in the third quarter after Taryn Christion's 6-yard TD pass to Connor Landberg.
Christion replaced Zach Lujan after two ineffective series to start the game and was instrumental in putting the Jackrabbits in position to tie or go ahead late. He finished with 156 yards passing and a team-high 61 yards rushing.