It’s all or nothing for the U-N-I Panthers when they host Southern Illinois on Saturday. With a victory the Panthers would earn a share of the Gateway Conference championship and earn the league’s automatic spot in the One-AA national playoffs.
A loss would keep them out of the playoffs. U-N-I moved into title contention after an electrifying victory at Western Kentucky in double overtime.
U-N-I coach Mark Farley says they’ve been in the playoffs the last three weeks and he says there are not gimmes in this league. The Panthers lost at Southern Illinois 40-36 in 2004 but this game is in the UNI-Dome where the Panthers are 50-and-11 since the Gateway Conference formed. He says they enjoy playing in the dome and the crowds are always supportive.
After missing nearly three games with an ankle injury quarterback Eric Sanders has returned to lead UNI to a pair of wins. He says each week they have to be careful what they do early in the week. Farley says Sanders pain tolerance grows each week and they take it day to day. U-N-I is 6-3 overall, 4-2 in the Gateway.