Offense sputters in loss to UNI

Andrew Mount

It seemed that the Jackrabbits’ offense could not find a way to keep moving, as they only managed six points total in their efforts against the University of Northern Iowa Panthers on Saturday.

The opening drive for the Jacks resulted in Austin Sumner completing a pass to the opposing Panthers defense.

“It looked like Aaron fell down, I don’t really know what happened, I’ll have to go back and look at it,” Sumner said when asked about throwing his interception.

However, Sumner wasn’t the only one to blame for contributing to the negative turnover margin of the Jacks offense.

Trailing 24-6 later in the game, the Jacks’ offense seemed to be putting together a nice drive when wide receiver Brandon Hubert fumbled the ball on the UNI 23-yard line.

“UNI, they’re a good football team, we knew that coming in, the best 1-5 team I think we’ve played,” Sumner said. “We knew that coming in, and we knew it was going to be a battle, but we just didn’t have it today I guess.”

Zach Zenner, who has been outstanding this season, finished the game with 20 carries and 112 yards, a season-low for the sophomore back. His signature big touchdown runs didn’t occur against UNI.

“We felt like we were close all day to busting one,” Zenner said. “UNI’s defense did a good job of making that last tackle, or that touchdown saving tackle a couple times.”


Defensive domination dwindles


The Jacks’ couldn’t make stops where it counted on Saturday.

Coming off of their impressive performance against the Western Illinois Leathernecks last week, the Jacks’ defense didn’t seem to be in the same rhythm against UNI on Saturday.

It began with the Jacks losing their footing, as players kept falling down early on.

One of those slip-ups by defensive back Chris Tracy led to a 40-yard touchdown pass from Sawyer Kollmorgen to a wide-open Sam Rohr in the first quarter of play.

“The team brought two pairs of normal cleats and then the turf shoes,” Winston Wright. “Guys in pregame were supposed to try out both; those guys went with what they thought was best, but as the game went on they switched over to the turf shoes.”

Opposing running back David Johnson ran the ball pretty well against the Jacks, finishing the game with 27 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown in Saturday’s matchup.

“This is a good football team, David Johnson is a real good running back,” Wright said. “They were just the better team today. We didn’t play to our full potential as a defense as we have in the past.”

The Jacks also managed to be fooled in the contest by a fake punt, which went for a first down, and later led to an extra three points for the Panthers offense.

UNI punter Kyle Bernard managed to keep the punt and rush towards the sideline for a first down against the Jacks’ defense, who were completely caught by surprise.

“We thought there was an opportunity there,” head coach Mark Farley said. “I think Kyle Brenard is a good athlete. We thought that with him back there that was a good chance to run it, and he made a good decision and moved the chains.”


Coaches comments


Head coach John Stiegelmeier had a few things to say following the Jacks’ unimpressive performance against UNI.

“I think they always play hard-nosed football,” Stiegelmeier said commenting on UNI. “I was hoping they were down, I was hoping they had lost some confidence.”

It didn’t appear that UNI lost any confidence, as the Jacks could not keep up on any side of the ball.

Stiegelmeier also commented on Zach Zenner not achieving his usual massive yardage type game.

“They hung on,” he said. “The difference was that last tackler held on. He could not get free.”

The rushing game was obviously what most wanted to talk about after the game; however, Stiegelmeier was equally concerned about the turnover ratio.

“I’m tremendously disappointed in a couple things,” Stiegelmeier said. “Number one, not hanging onto the football. It doesn’t matter who’s got the ball. When it’s in the air, it’s our ball. We dropped one, we fumbled one and then twice we ran the wrong route.”

The Jacks’ will look to turn things around this week as they face Youngstown State in the Hobo Day game on Saturday, Oct. 27.

They plan to look forward, not back, as they aim to finish the season strong.

“I’m disappointed with the way we played, but I do feel that we lost, got beat by a pretty good football team in Northern Iowa,” Stiegelmeier said. “I’m disappointed, but we will grow from it and not hang our head; a lot of things can be accomplished here this year.”