Panthers win 38-35

DYLAN PADY, Sports Editor | [email protected]

The air in the UNI-Dome was electrifying Saturday afternoon when Northern Iowa upset seventh ranked Eastern Washington, 38-35, this past weekend.

Each team was hungry for their first win of the season, intensifying the game that much more. Eastern Washington had a big drive and finished it off with an 18-yard pass to Cooper Kupp, for an early start of 0-7.

This remained the score throughout the rest of the first quarter. UNI then answered back with a successful read-option game between Aaron Bailey and Darrian Miller. Both players ran the ball hard and the Panthers began marching down the field with Tyvis Smith who finished it off with a one-yard carry into the end zone. Bailey and Miller dominated the ground game for the Panthers, with a combined 263 yards rushing in the game (151 yards for Bailey and 112 from Miller).

The Hawks then found themselves on the 27-yard line and retaliated quickly as they tossed a deep pass to Kupp again for a 73-yard touchdown. Down 14-7, the Panthers offense started to rock and roll. UNI opened the next drive with a 41-yard run by Bailey. Bailey then connected on a 32-yard pass to a fully covered Daurice Fountain in the corner of the end zone to tie it up. On the next possession, running back Michael Malloy finished off a well-executed drive catching a red zone touchdown pass for a Panther lead of 21-14 at halftime.

After the third quarter and another tied score at 21 apiece, Sawyer Kollmorgen took over quarterback duties for the Panthers. Kollmorgen had a tremendous first drive marching the Panthers down the field and found Logan Cunningham in the end zone for a touchdown. Five minutes later, Michael Schmadeke hit an easy 23-yard field goal. The Hawks were backed up on their own 16-yard line with their next possession when the Panther defense stepped up and changed the course of the game. On a quick pass towards the sideline, defensive back Deiondre’ Hall jumped the receiver’s route and intercepted the pass with nothing but green turf and end zone in front of him. The critical pick-six gave Hall and the Panthers a commanding two possesion  lead with five minutes left in the game.

“The turning point was when Sawyer came in and put the momentum back on our side and then the interception by D-Hall was the kill shot,” Farley said. “That was the dagger and hurt them.”

The Hawks scored one more time, but it was just a matter of letting the clock go after EWU used their last timeout. As the final seconds of play went by, Northern Iowa had come out on top.

This was the first time since 2011 the Hawks have been 0-2, but each team fought hard.

The coaching staff was just as proud seeing major improvements since week one, and Coach Farley said it was one of the biggest wins of his coaching career.

Hall was awarded College Sports Madness National Defensive Player of the Week for his performance that afternoon with six total tackles, one pass breakup and the decisive 16-yard interception for a touchdown.   

After a close, hard fought win, the Panthers are back on track and prepare for this Saturday as they travel to Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo going head to head with the Mustangs.