The season is over for the UNI Panthers following a 23-13 loss at North Dakota State in the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs on Saturday (Dec. 12, 2015).

The Panthers (9-5 overall) played toe-to-toe with the defending four-time national champions most of the game, couldn't overcome a specialty teams mistake on the opening play of the second half.

The Bison began the third quarter with a 97-yard kickoff return by Bruce Anderson, who appeared to be stopped at the 40-yard-line while running for the go-ahead touchdown. The play turned North Dakota State's 10-7 halftime deficit into a 14-10 advantage. UNI never got ahead of or even with the Bison (11-2) again.

The University of Northern Iowa football program fell to North Dakota State in the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, 23-13. UNI finished the season 9-5 overall.

The Panthers made it a one-score game with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but North Dakota State was able to get a safety on the first play of the UNI offensive drive, making it a two-possession game and too much for the Panthers to make up.

UNI quarterback Aaron Bailey finished the game 10-16-0 for 101 yards and a touchdown, adding 33 yards on the ground. Tyvis Smith had 16 carries for 58 yards while Daurice Fountain led the Panthers in receiving with two catches for 38 yards.

On defense, Brett McMakin racked up a team-high 12 tackles. Jared Farley added 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss along with a key fumble recovery.

The Panthers started the game with a balanced, 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard pass from Bailey to Brandon Smith to put UNI up 7-0 with 10:09 left in the first quarter. The drive burned 4:51 off the clock.

The Bison took advantage of good field position and countered with a touchdown of their own. Chase Morlocks one-yard run capped a seven-play, 39-yard drive that took 3:19 off the clock and tied the game at 7-7.

UNI regained the lead in the second quarter after Deiondre’ Hall forced a fumble, which Farley recovered at NDSU's 24-yard yard line. The Panthers, however, failed to move the ball and settled for a Michael Schmadeke field goal. The 32-yard field goal put UNI ahead 10-7 with 7:52 left in the 2nd quarter, a lead the Panthers would own the remainder of the first half.

Anderson’s kick return to start the third quarter was his second for touchdown this season.

The Bison built their 14-10 advantage into an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, when King Frazier scored on a four-yard rush with 6:40 remaining in the game. The touchdown run ended a seven-play, 90-yard drive that took 3:38 off the clock and gave NDSU a 21-10 edge.

Less than three minutes later, the Panthers cut the deficit to 21-13 on a 23-yard field goal by Schmadeke. His kick wrapped up a 69-yard, seven-play drive that took 2:23 to complete.

After a tough defensive stand, UNI regained possession on its own seven-yard-line and had hoped to drive for the winning touchdown. However, Bailey was sacked in the end zone on the first play, giving the Bison a safety. The play gave North Dakota State a 23-13 lead with 2:57 remaining in the game, securing the 10-point win.

North Dakota State's victory was the second over the Panthers this season. The then No. 2-ranked Bison beat UNI 31-28 in a wild game on Oct. 10. The earlier showdown between the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) rival, also played at the FargoDome, featured five lead changes in the fourth quarter.

The playoff loss ended UNI's seven-game winning streak and kept the Panthers from advancing to the FCS semifinals. The victory kept North Dakota State hopes of winning a fifth-straight National Championship alive. The Bison play Richmond next weekend for a spot in next month's title game.