Football seeks redemption against UNI in playoffs

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It’ll be a rematch between No. 6 South Dakota State and No. 21 Northern Iowa this weekend at the Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium. This time, more is at stake as it will be a second-round Football Championship Subdivision Playoff game.

The Northern Iowa Panthers are coming off a first-round 46-7 win over the No. 23 Monmouth Hawks.

The Jacks are looking to avenge a 38-18 Hobo Day loss from earlier this season. SDSU got outplayed in every aspect of that game and the Panthers held the ball for more than 40 minutes.

The Jacks will need to limit their turnovers this game. Last matchup, the Panthers capitalized on three Jacks miscues and jumped out to a 17-0 lead. The Jacks fumbled a punt and a kick return, and threw an interception.

One of those miscues came from wide receiver Marquise Lewis, who fumbled a punt return after the Jacks’ defense forced a key three-and-out.

“I think we are more experienced now, we will make up for it,” Lewis said.

It’ll be a big key for the Jacks defense to get off the field and get their high-octane offense the ball back.

UNI’s running back Marcus Weymiller tore the Jacks apart last meeting with 42 carries for 170 yards and two touchdowns. That game was the first appearance of the season for Weymiller.

A key to the Jacks defense will be stopping the pass. If standout cornerback Jordan Brown and the secondary can clamp down on the passing attack, they will force the Panthers to run Weymiller.

“He’s not very fast, but he’s pretty powerful,” Brown said. “There’s no hidden yards when he is running the ball.”

Since that game, Weymiller has been tormenting FCS defenses with 750 yards on the season. Stiegelmeier thinks his defense can stop Weymiller this time.

“I’m guessing we will play him a lot better,” Stiegelmeier said.

It’s not only the running game the Panthers can threaten the Jacks with. Quarterback Eli Dunne is one of the best quarterbacks in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and leads the Panthers on offense. Dunne has thrown for 220 yards per game and 25 touchdowns this season.

Wide receiver Daurice Fountain has been Dunne’s favorite target this season. Fountain has taken care of defenses up to this point and is in the top ten for FCS receiving touchdowns with 11. He also has 915 yards this season. 

SDSU contained Fountain to only 74 yards and one touchdown during the Hobo Day game.   

Part of the reason the Jacks were able to contain Fountain was because of Brown. Last game, he played on Fountain the whole time and will do the same during this game.

The Panthers field a defense that will have its hands full with Taryn Christion and the Jacks.

Jared Farley leads the Panther’s defense with 112 tackles on the year.

UNI is allowing more than 235 yards per game, but have the top secondary in the MVFC. The defense has intercepted quarterbacks 20 times this season, which may prove fatal since Jacks quarterback Taryn Christion has thrown seven interceptions this season.

The Jacks will look to get their two NFL prospects involved in the passing game this week in wide receiver Jake Wieneke and tight end Dallas Goedert.

The duo have combined for 106 catches for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdown’s. Both players were named on the All-Missouri Valley First Team.

The SDSU running game has been perplexing defenses this year. Led by running back Brady Mengarelli, the Jacks will look to continue that success. UNI is only allowing 124 rushing yards per game.

Stiegelmeier said the Jacks used their first-round bye to get players healthy.

“We are eager to play,” Stiegelmeier said. “We are as healthy as we are going to be.”

For the Jacks to flip the script on the Panthers, they will need to stop the run and take care of the ball.

It will be the second consecutive season SDSU will host a second-round FCS Playoff game. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m. at Dana J. Dykhouse and students can buy tickets for $5.

“We wanted this game,” Lewis said. “We wanted to play them.”

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