YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Kurt Hess threw his fourth touchdown pass with 1:50 remaining and NCAA FCS No. 3 Youngstown State held on to beat No. 8 Northern Iowa 42-35 Saturday night in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both teams.
After Hess completed a 26-yard TD pass to Christian Bryan, the Panthers began driving from their own 35.
On fourth-and-10 from the Penguins 32, Northern Iowa quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen threw a 14-yarder to Chad Owens. He then hit Brett LeMaster for 7 yards, but his next pass to LeMaster was deflected by Ali Cheaib as time expired.
The Penguins (4-0, 1-0), off to their best start since going 6-0 in 2000, trailed by a touchdown midway through the third quarter and again early in the fourth.
Torrian Pace's 1-yard rush tied it at 35 with 7:07 remaining.
Hess was 20 of 28 for 290 yards, setting the Penguins' school record with his 14th career 200-yard passing game. It was also his fourth four-TD game in his career.
YSU senior Jamaine Cook scampered for 146 yards on 32 carries, scoring one touchdown while moving into fifth place on the school's career rushing leaderboard.
For Northern Iowa (1-3, 0-1), Kollmorgen was 23-of-38 passing for 333 yards and three touchdowns. Owens ended the day with eight receptions for 137 yards.
Panther running back David Johnson had 150 yards from scrimmage and a total of four touchdowns, and Terrell Sinkfield finished with five receptions for 91 yards and a score.
UNI trailed by as many as 14 points during the first half, and the Panthers twice had a touchdown lead in the second half.
Youngstown State's victory snapped its 11-game skid against Northern Iowa. This was the first time since 2007 that both teams were ranked when they met.
Top-ranked North Dakota State is up next for both teams. Northern Iowa hosts the Bison at 6 p.m. next Saturday at the UNI-Dome, while YSU is idle next week before visiting the Fargodome on Oct. 6.