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CEDAR FALLS — An error-ridden first half was too much to overcome for No. 16 Northern Iowa Saturday at the UNI-Dome, as No. 21 South Dakota upset the Panthers, 34-21.

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Northern Iowa's Caden Houghtelling tackles South Dakota University's Nate Thomas on Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

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Northern Iowa's Spencer Cuvelier goes to tackle South Dakota University's Brett Samson on Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.

UNI’s afternoon of errors began in the first quarter when a low snap to punter Nate Murphy resulted in a short punt and eight-yard return by Isaiah McDaniels to the Panthers 13. Three plays later quarterback Carson Camp — who finished 16-20 with 153 yards and two touchdowns — threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Carter Bell for a 7-0 lead the Coyotes wouldn’t relinquish.

One play after South Dakota’s touchdown, Theo Day — who finished 25-35 with 303 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions — had his attempt for Quan Hampton deflected and intercepted by Jack Cochrane. Cochrane returned the pass 22 yards to the UNI 20, once again setting up the Coyotes with a short field. Four plays later a four-yard touchdown run by Travis Theis extended the Coyotes lead to 14.

The ugly first quarter bled into the second when Day’s pass up the middle for Isaiah Weston was jarred loose on a big hit by Jailen Holman and returned 65 yards by Josiah Ganues to the UNI 15. The return set up South Dakota’s third touchdown of the first half for a 24-0 lead at halftime.

“That one hurt,” UNI coach Mark Farley said. “Again, self-inflicted errors, but they won the line of scrimmage. You’ve got to give them credit. They won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football. That’s one of our standards. Even without the errors we lost the line of scrimmage.”

The Panthers (3-3, 1-2) began the second half with a spark and looked poised for a comeback after a 62-yard Vance McShane touchdown run and 28-yard touchdown reception by Sam Schnee in the first 4:25 of the quarter, but a 45-yard field goal by Mason Lorber and 10-play, 72 yard drive by the Coyotes afterwards (5-2, 3-1) stiff-armed the comeback bid.

“We lost (Justin) Peine and (Hayden Amos) on Wednesday,” Farley revealed postgame about a shuffled offensive line that allowed five sacks. “All that being said you’ve got to be able to make those adjustments in a season.”

UNI travels to No. 7 South Dakota State (5-1, 2-1) next week. Kickoff at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium is at 2 p.m. (ESPN+).

That’s my challenge, that’s my job,” Farley said of responding to two straight losses. “Whether it’s staff, players, offense, defense, special teams — there wasn’t one side that did something good today. This is gut-check time.”

USD 34, UNI 21

South Dakota 14 10 10 0 — 34

Northern Iowa 0 0 14 7 — 21

First quarter

USD – Bell 5 pass from Camp (Lorber kick), 1:11.

USD – Theis 4 run (Lorber kick), :00.

Second quarter

USD – Galbreath 9 pass from Camp (Lorber kick), 3:57.

USD – Lorber 31 FG, :00.

Third quarter

UNI – V. McShane 62 run (Cook kick), 14:15.

UNI – Schnee 28 pass from Day (Cook kick), 10:35

USD – Lorber 45 FG, 7:59.

USD – Thomas 2 run (Lorber kick), 1:12.

Fourth quarter

UNI – Morancy 20 pass from Day (Cook kick), 3:37

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