College football: Iowa State tops Northern Iowa, 42-24
AMES -- When it was good for Northern Iowa, it was real good.
Unfortunately, the bad out-weighed the good as the Panthers dropped a 42-24 decision to Iowa State Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium to open the 2017 season.
UNI scored on its first possession and led early, but two interceptions returned for touchdowns turned the tide and eventually the Cyclones offense got going and it was too much for the Panthers.
ISU had just 73 yards in the first 19 minutes and 29 seconds, but led 14-10, on interception returns for touchdowns by Willie Harvey (12 yards) and Kamari Cotton-Moya (22 yards).
Then the Cyclone offense got going as it scored four of its next five possessions and the Panthers couldn’t keep with that speeding locomotive.
Jacob Park went 27-for-35 for 271 yards and two touchdowns, and David Montgomery ran for 82 yards and a pair of scores on 14 carries to lead ISU.
Eli Dunne went 23-for-38 for 259 yards and two touchdowns, 18 yards to Isaiah Weston on the opening possession and 18 yards, to Jaylin James in the third quarter and 16 to Aaron Graham in the fourth, while completing passes to nine different receivers.
Other highlights were Trevor Allen’s 87 rushing yards on 12 carries, and the freshman, Weston had four catches for 72 yards and the score. Defensively, Jared Farley 14 tackles to lead UNI, while freshman Alphonzo Lambert had 10
However, Dunne also had three first-half interceptions.
The Panthers also committed eight penalties for 71 yards, including two that forced UNI to take a Sam Drysdale field goal instead of a potential tying-touchdown in the second quarter.
If not for the two pick-sixes for Iowa State, UNI played an excellent first half.
Dunne was spot on during the Panthers opening driving going 4-for-4 as UNI marched down the field before Dunne hit freshman Isaiah Weston on a deep slant for an 18-yard touchdown with 11:02 to go in the first quarter.
But with the good, came some bad for Dunne. With the Panthers buried deep in their own territory, Dunne rolled out to his right and was being pressured by Joel Lanning when his pass intended for Jalen Rima was jumped by Harvey who tipped it into the air before grabbing it and returning for an easy 12-yard touchdown and a 7-7 tie with 8:04 left.
Then facing a 2nd and 8 at the 18, Dunne tried to hit J’Veyon Browning with a quick slant over the middle, but Browning never looked for it. ISU’s Cotton-Moya was and he stepped in front of it and returned it 22-yards for a 14-7 lead with 1:08 left in the first.
The Panthers had a chance to tie it late in the second when runs of 23 and 28 by Trevor Allen moved UNI to the ISU 39. Dunne then found Weston deep for a what appeared to be a 34-yard gain to the Cyclone 5, but the play was called back for an offensive linemen down field.
A 26-yard pass to Weston set UNI up inside the ISU 20, but a hold eventually forced Sam Drysdale to kick a 43-yard field goal making it 14-10 with 4:32 left to half.
ISU, which had done very little offensive, then produced its best drive of the night, 8-plays for 75-yards with David Montgomery sprinting in from the eight with 2:27 left to half.
UNI returns to action next Saturday when it hosts Cal-Poly at 4 p.m. in the UNI-Dome.