They came close, but in the end the U.N.I. football team came up short in their bid to upset 12th ranked Wisconsin on Saturday. The Panthers fell behind by 19 points before rallying for two fourth quarter touchdowns and eventually falling by a 26-21 tally.
Freshman quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen was making his first start for U.N.I., and came on in the second half, completing 15 of 28 passes after halftime. Panther coach Mark Farley says the entire offense seemed to become more confident as the game went along.
“I think the offense questioned themselves a little bit in that first half, just how the unit was going to come together,” Farley says. He says they started to develop a trust in Kollmorgen as the game went on.
Farley says that another difference in the second half was an improvement in U.N.I.’s play on the offensive line. He says when you play a team like Wisconsin you can prepare, but until you line up and go after them, you have no chance. Farley says they started winning the line of scrimmage and started to finish plays.
The Panther defense played well the entire game, holding Wisconsin to just over 50% in their third-down conversion attempts. There were some big question marks coming into the game on the defensive side of the ball for U.N.I., but Farley says may of those were answered Saturday.
On the whole, Farley says that even though the Panthers came out on the losing side of the scoreboard, he’s very pleased with his team’s performance. “This is a starting point only, and we have to build from this,” he says.
U.N.I. will play their home opener Saturday when they face Division II Central State. The Panthers will jump right back into Big Ten competition the following Saturday when they visit Iowa.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls