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AMES — Matt Campbell was candid when he addressed his football team.
Northern Iowa played like a team that deserved to win. Iowa State didn’t. So on a night that could have been a milestone in Campbell’s coaching career, it was UNI coach Mark Farley that was all smiles.
“I hate it for our fan base, I hate it for our seniors, but (Northern Iowa) deserved to win the football game,” Campbell said. “They did what you have to do to win the game.”
Northern Iowa beat Iowa State for the third time in the last nine years Saturday, this time 25-20 in Campbell’s debut as the head man in Ames. Farley became the winningest coach (130-61) in UNI football history.
If the Panthers (1-0) did what it takes to win a game, the Cyclones (0-1) did just about everything to lose one.
Iowa State racked up nine penalties for 89 yards, lost the turnover margin 4-1 and gained merely 51 yards rushing. Three of the four turnovers came in the final five minutes of the game when the Cyclones were trying to preserve a 20-19 lead.
“We felt like we let them out-perform us tonight,” said wide receiver Allen Lazard, who had six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. “We know our capability and we definitely didn’t meet our potential tonight. We still have a lot of room to improve on.”
Cyclones quarterback Joel Lanning was 18-for-28 passing for 256 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Running back Mike Warren had 12 carries for 30 yards. The ISU offensive line, already suffering depth issues, was without redshirt freshman Julian Good-Jones who served a one-game suspension for violation of team rules.
UNI quarterback Aaron Bailey lived up to his resume as a dual-threat quarterback, finishing 15-for-27 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown. He added 114 yards and a touchdown on the ground while Tyvis Smith added 68 yards rushing.
“When you game plan you’ve got to have keys on him,” said linebacker Reggan Northrup, who had a game-high 13 tackles. “You can’t focus on the receivers and the running backs and stuff. We knew he was going to do this and try to run around. We’ve just got to make sure we play our keys, read our keys, play our gaps and do our responsibilities.”
Northern Iowa commanded the time of possession 35:56 to 24:04, and had the ball 4:04 longer in the fourth quarter due in large part to three ISU turnovers.
Lanning connected with Lazard in the corner of the south end zone for 33 yards and the go-ahead touchdown to lead 20-19. In the final 7:02, Iowa State only managed to run six offensive plays because of two Lanning interceptions and a Warren fumble.
“How are you going to win a game when it’s 4-1? It’s just not going to happen,” Campbell said. “We’re not good enough nor is really anybody to overcome a situation like that. That’s disappointing. We’ve got to continue to address and it we’ve got a lot of work to do with it.”