Max Hall threw for 486 yards and two touchdowns and No. 16 BYU overcame four turnovers in the second half, beating Northern Iowa 41-17 Saturday.
The Cougars extended the longest winning streak in the nation to 11 straight in the season opener for both teams, but struggled to put away the Championship Subdivision Panthers after taking a 27-3 halftime lead.
UNI converted two of BYU's three fumbles in the third quarter into touchdowns and got within 27-17, stifling every opportunity the Cougars had to put the game away until the fourth quarter.
Hall scored BYU's first points of the second half on a 1-yard keeper with 9:02 left to play, then BYU recovered a fumble less than a minute later that led to another touchdown.
Harvey Unga ran for two touchdowns and Dennis Pitta caught 11 passes for a career-best 213 yards for BYU.
UNI's Pat Grace took a beating in his first college start and finished 11-for-18 for 112 yards. He also ran for 72 yards, breaking an option keeper 69 yards to set up a field goal in the first quarter. Receiver Victor Williams threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Josh Collins for UNI.
The Panthers finished with just 362 yards of offense, but managed to keep it close through three quarters with some big plays and BYU's four fumbles in the second half.
Hall finished 34-for-41 with no interceptions while leading the Cougars to 563 yards of offense. If it wasn't for the turnovers, it could have been much worse.
The Panthers caused a fumble on BYU's first possession of the second half, then caught the Cougars off guard with a play that fooled everyone. Grace handed off to Corey Lewis, who pitched it to Williams coming the other way. Williams had plenty of time to set and threw a perfect pass to Collins, who went untouched down the sideline for a touchdown.
UNI pinned BYU inside the 4 on a punt later in the period and the Panthers turned it into a touchdown when James Ruffin ran down hall from behind and caused a fumble, which Mark Huygens recovered for a touchdown that cut it to 27-17 with 5:59 left in the third.
Hall was 5-for-6 during a 73-yard touchdown drive on BYU's opening possession, which ended on a pass to Reed at the 13-yard line and the BYU receiver running through three Panthers at the goal line. The Cougars forced a fumble and three plays later Hall hit Unga on a slant pattern over the middle for a 19-yard touchdown with 1:25 left in the first.
Unga added two short touchdown runs in the second quarter to give BYU a 27-3 halftime lead.
UNI's only score of the half was a 33-yard field goal by Billy Hallgren.
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