CEDAR FALLS Bobby Petrino was treated to a water cooler bath on Saturday night when the horn sounded in the resurrected Bears second win over a ranked opponent in as many weeks.
Northern Iowas’ offense continued to pivot during a 13-6 defeat at the UNI-Dome, essentially eliminating the No. 10-ranked Panthers from the FCS playoff call with their third loss in five games.
It wasn’t good enough, UNI head coach Mark Farley said after his team extended his streak to six quarters without a touchdown. In order to get away with just six points in such a situation, we have to do something on the offensive to bring about some change and get much more production than what is coming out now.
We often had a good field position to launch drives and we didn’t connect to it. We really need to go back and see what we did these first games and really make some changes to move forward.
The Panthers (2-3) were forced to make major adjustments in the 24-plus hours leading up to Saturday’s 4:00 pm kick-off. Farley discovered at 7 a.m. on Friday that starting quarterback Will McElvain would be unavailable due to the COVID-19 protocol.
As a result, Redshirt freshman Justin Fomby made his first start at the end of a week running Missouri States offense as scout team QB.
A three-star recruit from Lawrenceville, Georgia, Fomby finished 18th out of 29 for 215 yards. He took three bags under constant pressure from the Missouri state defensive front. His helmet popped three times causing him to miss an action on the Bears 5-yard line in the first half and a second down play out of 32 after a Benny Sapp III interception led off the second half.
Actually, there was no practice time per se, Farley said. It was just taking the plan and adapting it to Justins’s skills.
Fomby and UNI’s offense was promising early on, moving the ball to Missouri States 32 on its opening run, marked by a 17-yard completion to finish Alex Allen tight. But that scoring opportunity ended in fourth and a false start in what was the first of six costly UNI penalties.
Punishments killed us all day and especially in the first half, Farley said. Every time we tried to do something during an attack, we got an offensive penalty kick. Some of that was probably because of communication.
Missouri State, which also competed with back-up QB due to starter Jaden Johnson dealing with concussion, put together the game’s most complete ride in the first series after a Nate Murphy punt pinned the Bears to their 9th.
MSU marched 91 yards on 13 games against a UNI defense that opened with a three-man front. Backup Matt Struck completed a few third-and-short passes to Jordan Murray early on. Tobias Little then hit a cut to a rush of 20 yards before a passer penalty was imposed on Carson Buddmeyer from 3 yards for the games only touchdown.
Missouri State took its first win over UNI since 2005. This was only the second time that a Farley-coached team lost to the Bears in 19 games. UNI had not lost to the Bears at home since 1988.
Offensively, we’re doing just enough to get by right now, but we played when we had to, Petrino said after Missouri State passed 174 yards and scored 62 on the ground. Great opening drive of the game and then a good rounding of the game. We’ll take it.
Much of the UNI’s offensive battle boiled down to the teams’ lack of run game. The Panthers scored just 27 yards on 26 wishbones, and Fomby was often left in predictable third and long passing situations.
UNI’s best chance of scoring occurred during the two-minute practice at the end of the first half, after Fombys’ lone interception allowed Missouri state to kick the field goal and go up 10.
On a ride that started 1:24 to half time, Isaiah Weston caught a ball 28 feet deep and Logan Wolf added a 15 meter reception. Wolf then stumbled to the 5-yard line at the end of a 27-yard catch and the UNI quarterbacks couldn’t find enough time to hit the ball into the end zone.
Fombys helmet came off under pressure during a first-down pass game. His backup Nate Martens was rushed on the ensuing incomplete pass and Fomby collapsed before UNI settled for a field goal from Matthew Cook.
Justin did a good job of getting us there in that two-minute attack, Farley said. We probably should have had a touchdown on Wolfs’ catch, but were still in position to score with timeouts.
Then we had a series of events with some missed opportunities is probably the best way to put it. Much to do with inexperience once we got so tight there. That’s where it was most evident that we weren’t ready for Justin to be the quarterback in that situation.
The Panthers’ defense generated a favorable field position for the second half, but UNI’s third quarter drives that started at 45 and 50 ended in a 35 kick and a field goal. Cook missed a 47-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and Missouri State converted a fourth-and-five ahead of a field goal to go up seven with 4:30 remaining.
UNI’s next drive stalled at 29. The Panthers kicked the ball away with 2:33 remaining and never got it back. Strucks 13-yard run on third and 10 with 2:12 left, the Bears let the clock run out.
The defense held its own and did the things they had to do multiple times during the game, Farley said. But at the same time, our job for the defense is to get as many chances as possible for the offense, and the offense should score points when they cross the 50 yard line.
Everything needs to be viewed now.
Missouri St. 13, UNI 6
Missouri St. 7 3 0 3 13
No. Iowa 0 3 3 0 6
MSU: Carson Buddemeyer 3 pass from Matt Struck (Jose Pizano kick), 4:00. (Scoring drive: 13 plays, 91 yards, 6:47).
MSU: Pizano 31 FG, 1:24. (Scoring drive: 4 plays, 8 yards, 2:06).
UNI: Matthew Cook 27 field goal, 0:00. (Scoring drive: 11 plays, 65 yards, 1:24)
UNI: Cook 43 field goal, 0:55. (Scoring drive: 6 plays, 25 yards, 3:14)
MSU: Pizano 33 field goal, 4:30 (Score drive: 12 games, 55 yards, 6:09.
First downs 14 11
Rushes yards 36-62 26-27
Comp-Att-Int 19-25-1 18-30-1
Return yards 53 74
Points-Avg. 5-42.4 6-37
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties 6-35 10-57
Time of possession 31:09 28:51
RUSHING Missouri St., Tobias Little 12-38, Jeremiah Wilson 3-15, Matt Struck 7-7, Celdon Manning 13-4. N. Iowa, Dom Willimas 10-36, Tyler Hoosman 7-17, Quan Hampton 2-5, Deion McShane 1-4, Nate Marens 1-minus 5, Justin Fomby 5-minus 30.
TO SUITMissouri St., beaten 19-25-1-174. N. Iowa, Fomby 18-29-1-215.
RECEIVEMissouri St., Damoriea Vick 6-67, Jordan Murray 4-43, Lorenzo Thomas 3-36, Cairo Payne 1-7, Isaac Smith 1-6, Celdon Manning 1-6, Ron Tiavaasue 1-3, Carson Buddemeyer 1- 3, Jeremiah Wilson 1-3. N. Iowa, Quan Hampton 6-31, Logan Wolf 3-52, Deion McShane 3-23, Kyle Fourtenbary 2-48, Isaiah Weston 2-33, Alex Allen 1-17, Tysen Kershaw 1-11.