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No. 5 South Dakota State scores late touchdown to beat No. 3 Northern Iowa

The Jackrabbits made two huge plays on the last drive of the game to escape with a win in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener.

Northern Iowa Panthers head coach Mark Farley watches his team against the Iowa State Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 29-26 in three overtimes. Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Strong, Jr. caught a 1-yard pass from Mark Gronowski for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits with 19 seconds remaining to seal a 24-20 win over the Northern Iowa Panthers on Friday night at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

The Jackrabbits (1-0) had the lead for most of the contest and led 17-7 at halftime, but gave up 13 points unanswered to open the second stanza. Unable to move the ball for most of the second half, a key play came on 3rd and 5 with 2:16 remaining as Zach Heins slipped past the Panthers defense for a 42-yard game to set up first and goal from the two-yard-line.

From there SDSU let the clock run down while Northern Iowa chose not to burn their two available timeouts. That decision would come back to cost them as Strong scored on third and goal from the 1-yard line.

Final stats were not available for the game as of this writing due to technical difficulties at the UNI-Dome, as they stopped working with 8:35 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Jackrabbits closed as a 1.5 point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.