UNI Football advances in the playoffs

WILLIAM RIEPE, Sports Writer

The Panthers’ first game in this season’s playoffs featured a home game against Monmouth University. Prior to their 46-7 victory, the Panthers possessed a three game win streak against Indiana State, Missouri State and South Dakota.

The Panthers scored early in the first quarter with touchdowns from quarterback Eli Dunne. UNI increased their lead to 46-0 before they were finally scored on late into the fourth quarter.

A highlight of this first quarter was a one-handed catch by linebacker Jared Farley. Farley is known for his top-notch defensive performances but found himself on the other side of the ball last weekend, earning himself a touchdown on his only target of the game.

This turned into a game of turnovers. Dunne did not get picked off once, dominating through the air with four touchdowns. Daurice Fountain has easily been Dunne’s most popular target this season, and last week was no difference. Dunne connected with Fountain 10 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns.

The Panther run game was also strong against Monmouth. Senior running back J’Veyon Browning carried the ball 14 times for 136 yards but failed to find the end zone. Marcus Weymiller still led the carry count last weekend, netting 74 yards on 17 carries. The Panther offense put up a season-high 249 yards on the ground.

The defense has seemed to find their groove, only allowing 10 points in the last two games combined. Part of this is the Panther’s secondary, which managed to pick off Monmouth quarterback, Kenji Bahar four times.

All in all, the Panthers have been dominant. After some early confusion in the season, the Panthers have gotten it together, winning six of their last seven games, including wins over conference rival South Dakota State.

South Dakota State will be looking to take revenge after the Panthers dominated them in week seven, 38-18. The Panthers were one of South Dakota State’s only losses this season. They started out with a dominant 9-3 record, only taking loses to top teams like TCU.

All-MVFC first team star, quarterback Taryn Christion, is taking the snap for the Jackrabbits and has looked dominant as one of the top quarterbacks in the conference. Christion will be up against a challenge, as the Panther secondary has looked like a no-fly zone for opposing quarterbacks as of late, drawing large pick numbers and shutting down the short pass.

The Jackrabbits run game has been recently lacking, as many of their running backs have failed to crack 100 yards over the last few weeks. When it comes to running the ball, the Panthers look like the stronger team at the moment.

When asked for his prediction for the playoff game, junior physical education major Luke Kisker said, “Eli Dunne has been hot, the defense has been solid and will roll past the Jack Rabbits on Saturday [….] My score prediction: 24-14 Panthers.”

With such recent dominance, the Panthers are in a great position to keep their playoff record untouched. The game against the Jackrabbits will be played in Brookings, South Dakota at 2 p.m.