CEDAR FALLS — Lack of familiarity with its Week 1 opponent proved too much to overcome for Northern Iowa football.
In a raucous environment and after trailing 26-0 at halftime to then-No. 24 Montana, the Panthers’ second-half comeback fell just short, 26-23.
“Once we got in sync, and once we figured out what (Montana) was doing (we) kind of took charge of the football game at that point,” UNI head coach Mark Farley said Monday during his weekly news conference. “It was just difficult to come back in that type of environment, but, we did.
“So there’s a whole upside to what we did, it’s just we came up short.”
Most intriguing about UNI’s failed comeback was a switch at the quarterback position. Senior Colton Howell replaced Eli Dunne in the second half and gave life to what had been a dismal passing game.
“There’s no question when Colton came in (he) did a tremendous job,” Farley said. “Once we got into the second half and made the change with Colton we really just went into our tempo phase and put (Montana) on their heels. I think the (first) run by Colton is what started to open up everything else.”
Howell finished the game 11 of 22 for 140 yards passing and one touchdown, while Dunne completed just 5 of his 20 attempts for 24 yards and one interception. Dunne dealt with drops from his receivers and a number of blitz packages from the Grizzlies, but made his own share of poor plays. Headed into a bye week, Farley was not ready to commit to a starter for the Week 3 matchup at Iowa.
“I don’t know if I’ll have an answer before I go to (Kinnick Stadium),” Farley said. “We don’t want to get into who’s the quarterback. Eli didn’t play well, everybody knows that. Colton, everything seemed to go a little bit smoother when he was on the field. I don’t know if it was just because of Colton or some other things that happened in the football game.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“I’ll base it off whatever I think is the best situation for us in that particular game and it might change quickly in that game.”