Panthers Kick Their Way To Playoff Win [PHOTOS]
It's sometimes easy to overlook the impact a place-kicker has on the success of a football team. For UNI, Austin Errthum's reliability and accuracy made a big difference on Saturday (Nov. 24, 2018).
Errthum kicked three field goals and an extra-point in the Panthers' 16-13 victory over Lamar in the first-round of the NCAA FCS playoffs at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. His 35-yard field goal with 13-minutes, nine-seconds left in the fourth quarter broke a 13-13 tie, and provided the only points scored by either team in the second half.
"Austin made all the difference in the world," UNI Coach Mark Farley said. "When you get into playoffs, you're going to be in close games. Kicking was the difference in this game. The accuracy is really what matters as a kicker, and he some big kicks today."
UNI overcame a 10-point deficit with big plays on defense and a strong running game. The Panthers trailed 13-3 after the first quarter, but the score was deadlocked at halftime.
The victory propels UNI (7-5) to the second round of the FCS playoffs. The Panthers next face sixth-seeded UC-Davis on the road. The game is scheduled to start at 6 PM-CT Saturday in Davis, Calif.
UNI's game against Lamar was hard-fought from the opening kickoff. The Cardinals (7-5), making their first FCS playoff appearance in program history, scored on just the second play from scrimmage. Quarterback Darrel Colbert found Kirkland Banks in the flat. Banks found the edge and ran 73 yards for the touchdown, but Lamar failed to convert a bad snap on the extra-point kick.
Deion McShane took the ensuing kickoff 61 yards back to the Lamar 37-yard line to set up a 21-yard field goal for Errthum, his first of the day.
On the next possession, Lamar picked up four consecutive third down conversions on the back of Colbert, a dual threat from the pocket. He capped the drive with a 25-yard pass to Case Robinson giving Lamar a 13-3 lead with 7:29 to play in the first quarter. But, the Cardinals wouldn't score again.
UNI added a 44-field goal by Errthum with 8:16 to play in the second quarter, then tied the game at 13-all when quarterback Eli Dunne hooke up with Jalen Rima on a 32-yard touchdown pass at the 1:59 mark.
On their first drive of the second half, the Cardinals advanced to UNI's 17-yard line before losing possession of the ball on a fumble. Lamar squandered another scoring chance with 2:42 left in the third quarter, when the Cardinals a missed 42-yard field goal with 2:42 in the third quarter.
The Panthers' defense held Lamar out of the end zone for the remainder of the game. On the ensuing possession after the UNI field goal, Lamar drove to the 19-yard line, but again fumbled away the possession.
The Cardinals had one final scoring chance with 2:50 to play, but missed a game-tying 36-yard field goal attempt.
The run game was big for the Panthers on Saturday. Marcus Weymiller rushed for 128 yards on 29 carries and Trevor Allen notched 112 yards on 18 carries. It was Allen’s first game for UNI since Oct. 27 at Western Illinois.