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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 17, 2017

Northern Iowa football team gets home playoff game

Nov 21, 2017

By Cole Blair, Gazette Coorespondent

 

CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa now knows who and where it will play in the FCS playoffs.

Monmouth (9-2) will travel to Cedar Falls this Saturday for a 4 p.m. first-round matchup at the UNI-Dome.

“It’s a good day,” UNI Coach Mark Farley said. “Worked our way into this. Proud of our players and proud of our football team right now. They’re excited to be in it. Then, when they showed that we’re playing Monmouth and we got a home game that was even more exciting.”

Monmouth — making its first-ever FCS playoff appearance — was the second-place finisher in the Big South Conference after losing 52-21 in their regular season finale Saturday to Kennesaw State with the Big South title on the line. The Hawks, who operate a balanced offense that averages 35 points per game, turned it over a season-high five times in their loss to the Owls.

Farley mentioned that he anticipates getting at least a couple more injured players back for the game, including offensive lineman Bryce Sweeney. Saturday’s game saw the return of slot-receiver Aaron Graham and left tackle Cal Twait. Eli Dunne’s status still is uncertain for Saturday at this point, but having a home game only helps his and all other injured Panthers in their ability to get back on the field.

“One, it gives us another chance to play in the Dome. Two, there also is an element of being prepared because you get an extra day that you don’t have to travel and that is a factor sometimes when you get this deep into it,” Farley said. “There’s a comfort zone, no question, that you get to practice here and play here and I know our players really enjoy playing here.”

Should UNI win its first-round matchup with Monmouth, it will make a return trip to Brookings, S.D. to take on South Dakota State (9-2), which received the No. 5 seed. UNI defeated SDSU, 38-18, in a Week 7 matchup in Brookings.

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