NORMAL, Ill. (AP) -- Northern Iowa's Eric Sanders hit wide receiver Terrell Allen for a short touchdown pass to secure a late-game 23-13 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds on Saturday in the Gateway Football Conference opener for both teams.
Northern Iowa's victory gave them a 5-0 record for the first time since 1992.
The Redbirds (2-3, 0-1 Gateway Football Conference) scored first when quarterback Luke Drone connected with tailback Geno Blow, who went 50 yards for a touchdown. Blow led the game in rushing with 167 yards on 31 carries.
The Panthers (5-0, 1-0 Gateway) took a 13-7 lead with just 47 seconds left in the first half when Sanders found wide receiver Victor Williams for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Illinois State tied things up with 4:38 left in the third quarter when Drone hit Jake Rourke on the 10 yard line, and the wide receiver ran it in for a touchdown. Redbirds kicker Tyler Funk missed the extra point, and so the score remained 13-13.
That left the door open for Sanders and Allen, who took the 5-yard pass into the end zone with 5:24 left in the game. Panthers kicker Billy Hallgren added a 43-yard field goal with 2:48 left to put the game out of reach.