CEDAR FALLS AP) — Brawntae Wells returned an interception for a touchdown early in the first quarter, Christian Jegen sealed the game with a pick late in the fourth quarter and Northern Iowa defeated San Diego 17-3 in the first round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
Jegen went 52 yards the other way with a Reid Sinnett passing attempt and Trevor Allen scored on a 7-yard run on the next play to seal the defensive battle.
The Panthers (9-4) play at seventh-seeded South Dakota State (8-4) next weekend. UNI lost at SDSU 38-7 two weeks ago.
Northern Iowa finished with 268 yards to 213 for the Pioneer League champion Toreros (9-2), who had their nine-game winning streak stopped. UNI, runner-up in the Missouri Valley Conference, is making its 21st playoff appearance while San Diego, which averaged 41.7 points per game, was appearing for the sixth time.
Sinnett, from Johnston, was 22-of-36 for 187 yards and three interceptions. The Toreros got a field goal in the closing seconds of the first half.
Will McElvain was 13-of-27 for 186 yards for the Panthers. Northern Iowa had a field goal in the fourth quarter to end a 68-yard drive.