By Rob Schabert, TTU Sports Information Director
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Maybe it was the lack of fresh air or sunshine. Playing indoors didn't seem to agree with Tennessee Tech Saturday evening.
Or, more likely, it was the quality of the opponent. Northern Iowa came into the game ranked 10th nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision, and the Panthers didn't do anything to hurt their chances of ascending higher in the polls as they topped the Golden Eagles, 50-7, in a non-conference game inside the UNI-Dome.
"They're very, very good," said Golden Eagle head coach Watson Brown. "It's tough to handle somebody like that. It was the best team we've played on the FCS level in my seven years (at Tech). They're good everywhere, and this was just total domination."
Tech (1-3) trailed 47-0 late in the third quarter when sophomore Radir Annoor broke through the middle, weaved to his right and outran everyone for an 84-yard touchdown to put a spark in the Golden Eagle side of the scoreboard. It was the seventh longest run from scrimmage in school history, and longest since an 87-yard TD by Derek White in 2003.
That play stood out as the only true highlight of the afternoon for Tech, however, which saw UNI (2-2) roll up 528 yards of offense on 76 plays and limit the visitors to 92 total yards on 42 plays.
Tech's defense looked ready to continue the impressive performance it showed last week in a 10-7 loss at No. 20 Tennessee State. Early in the game, the Golden Eagles slammed the door on UNI twice and forced the Panthers to settle for field goals after knocking on the end zone door.
Jimmy Laughlin's quarterback sack and Jay Rudwalls quarterback hurry, each coming on third down plays, were the keys to bringing placekicker Michael Schmadeker onto the field. He hit from 30 yards, then from 25 yards, for a 6-0 lead after the first period.
But the Panthers found other ways to attack, and were extremely effective. They had a 34-0 lead at halftime, with 329 yards of offense. Quarterback Sawyer Kollmorgen threw three TD strike sin the second quarter and took a seat at halftime after throwing for 200 yards on 14-for-21 accuracy. He tossed a 12-yard score to Braden Lehman, an 11-yard TD to Brett LeMaster, and a 25-yard toss into the corner of the end zone to Kevin Vereen.
Also in the second quarter, Deiondre Hall picked off a pass from Jared Davis -- a toss headed right for receiver Cody Matthews who slipped and fell – leaving Hall with an easy catch and run to paydirt.
It was that kind of day.
Schmadeker kicked three more field goals in the second half from 38, 32 and 28 yards, finishing the day 5-for-5 with five PATs for 20 of UNI's 50 points.
All-America runningback David Johnson added 142 yards on 14 carries. Annoor was next in rushing yards with 98 yards on eight carries.
Golden Eagle punter Jonathan King was called on often, and tied a school record with 12 punts. His dozen kicks matched the mark set by Chad Zinchini against Oregon. King kicked for a school record 523 yards to average 43.6 per kick, a total that topped the previous mark of 492 by Zinchini in that game against Oregon.
Defensively, redshirt freshman end Joe Robertson was Tech's top tackler with a career-high nine stops along with one-half a tackle-for loss. Marty Jones made eight tackles while Kevin Robinson-White had 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
After playing their last three games on the road and spending one weekend off with an open date in the schedule, the Golden Eagles will be back in friendly Tucker Stadium next Saturday (Oct. 4) for the first time in five weeks.
"We're down right now. Our confidence is down," Brown said. "And the injuries. I didn't see much that we can take from this game. We need to regroup and get ready for conference play. Our schedule has been brutal, and the injuries are catching up with us too early in the year.
"We've got good kids. Our kids are winners," he added. "We'll get right back at it and start getting ready for next week."
Tech hosts Murray State in its second Ohio Valley Conference contest of the season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in a game that is the featured event in Family Weekend on campus.
For tickets, please visit or call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940), or go online to the Tickets page on TTUsports.com.
RANDOM GAME NOTES
* UNI is now 192-49-1 all-time record inside the UNI-Dome, which was opened in 1976.
* The UNI Panthers are now 18-7-1 all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference, having faced Eastern Kentucky (0-1), Eastern Illinois (15-6-1), Jacksonville State (1-0) and Murray State (1-0), and Tech (1-0).
* Golden Eagle game captains are seniors Ben Viaene (54), Cody Matthews (9), Midoho Okpokowuruk (94) and Matthew Smith (75).