The football season ended for Northern Iowa Saturday a few seconds and one point short of a trip to Chattanooga and a spot in the national title game as they fell to Richmond in the semifinal round of the playoffs 21-20. Richmond got the ball at their own 38-yard line with no time outs left — but drove down and scored the go-ahead points with 14 seconds left to win the ballgame.
U.N.I. had the ball with two minutes left, but coach Mark Farley’s team couldn’t run the clock out. "This one hurts because we had it..in that last drive…we had it a lot of different ways actually," Farley says. Farley says he told the team if they can take what they did and use it in their own life experiences, as they never gave up and never listened to those who didn’t believe in them. The Panthers weren’t expected to get this far, but overcame obstacles such as having their two top receivers kicked of the team to advance to the semifinals.
Farley says it’s hard and "so disappointing’ because he feels bad for his players, yet he is so proud of them for what they’ve done to get to this point, "and than to have it taken away from you in the last seconds." Junior defensive end James Ruffin says it was a tough loss.
Ruffin says his thoughts were with the seniors and how they led the team and he says not getting the seniors to the championship game is what hurts the most. Ruffin they should have been able to stop Richmond on the winning drive.
Ruffin says all season long the defense has made plays and they wanted to have the lead in the fourth quarter, but he says Richmond made the plays to win the game. U.N.I. finishes the season at 12-3. Richmond advances to play Montana in the title game.