Saturday's contest in Kinnick Stadium started almost exactly as last week's did.
The visiting team took the opening kickoff, ran through the Iowa defense effortlessly and scored a touchdown.
Also just like the previous week, they failed to find the end zone again in the game.
Thankfully, Hawkeyes were able to reverse the tide and pull out a 27-16 against Northern Iowa.
The difference this week was that the Iowa offense did find the end zone. Or, rather, starting fullback-turned-running back, Mark Weisman found the end zone. Three times.
Weisman, the transfer from Air Force, scored on three short runs to account for all three of Iowa's touchdowns. Weisman started the game at fullback, but was forced to move to halfback after injuries to Iowa's Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon.
He responded to the change awfully well.
Weisman had 24 carries for 113 yards. The Iowa offense was fueled by Weisman, but quarterback James Vandenberg had his best game of the year as well.
Vandenberg threw for 228 yards on 18-of-28 passing. The opening drive from scrimmage for the Hawkeyes saw Vandenberg miss a wide-open Keenan Davis—who had nothing but green in front of him—the QB instead throwing a short pass for a nice first-down gain. But it still angered the Iowa fans.
Vandenberg did respond, however, and seemed to settle in nicely.
Kevonte Martin-Manley was Iowa's leading receiver with five receptions for a career-high 101 yards. Keenan Davis also had five catches for 54 yards. Weisman and tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz had three catches each for 33 yards and 27 yards, respectively.
Vandenberg still has not thrown for a touchdown in 12 quarters of play this season, but he did look more comfortable on Saturday than in his previous two games. The Iowa receivers also stepped up their games with much surer hands against the Panthers than they displayed against Iowa State.
While UNI is an FCS school, they are a very good FCS school, so this win should not be overlooked by Iowa fans.
When the Panthers took the opening drive for a touchdown, things did not look too good in Kinnick Stadium. Freshman quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen carved up the Iowa defense with ease. The Hawkeyes defense, however, made some adjustments and yielded just three field goals for the next 55 minutes of play.
Initial reports from KCCI sound like Bullock and Garmon are not injured badly and could return soon. Weisman, however, may have laid claim to being the feature back—at least for another week. Bullock did look good in his limited action, averaging 5.9 yards on 13 carries.
If Iowa can get the same production from the receivers and Vandenberg, they should be able to make it two and a row next week at home against Central Michigan. Central Michigan, while not a slouch, is possibly the worst team the Hawks will see this year.
Kirk's squad hopes to go 3-1 heading into Big Ten play. They got a big boost yesterday by beating an in-state rival and waking up the offense, and, just as importantly—going into two more home games—the fans.
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