NORTHERN IOWA 28, IOWA STATE 20

Clinton product Johnson leads UNI past Cyclones

2013-09-01T16:44:00Z 2013-09-10T21:27:13Z Clinton product Johnson leads UNI past CyclonesJim Sullivan Lee News Network Muscatine Journal
September 01, 2013 4:44 pm  • 

AMES, Iowa — The property line has been moved. Again.

On the final Saturday night of August, Jack Trice Stadium belonged to the football team from the University of Northern Iowa.

The Panthers opened their 2013 season with a wild, 28-20 victory over Iowa State before a crowd of 56,800 that tied a single game record.

It was UNI's fifth win in the 25-game series with ISU and the first on the Cyclones' field since the 24-13 victory in 2007. It also pushed into the background two things — the 20-19, last-second loss the Panthers suffered at Jack Trice two years ago and the disappointment that was a 5-6 record last fall.

"Everybody's ecstatic to get that first win,'' linebacker Jake Farley said. "Coming in and getting a W was important. You've got to start strong.

"We've been saying this — this is just the beginning. This is a great win to start it and we'l definitely take it and be happy with it. But it's the first game and we've got a lot of season left to play."

And if the night belonged to UNI, a large part of it could legitimately be claimed by David Johnson.

The junior running back from Clinton scored four touchdowns Saturday, matching a school single-game record. Mixing speed and power, Johnson bolted 37 yards for the game's first touchdown. He also caught a 9-yard TD pass from Sawyer Kollmorgen and raced 27 yards for a score.

All of that happened in the first half. Johnson posted just one TD in the second half, but it was huge. With the Panthers clinging to a one-point lead in the fourth quarter, Johnson turned a short Kollmorgen pass into a 29-yard scoring play. On the way, he made three Cyclones miss.

Johnson finished with 199 yards rushing and 41 receiving on four catches. Yes, he fumbled late, but that didn't keep UNI from winning.

"No," said Johnson when asked if he thought his role would be so large. "I just wanted to come out, do my best and help the team."

UNI head coach Mark Farley called Johnson's effort "a good performance.

"It would have been great if he hadn't fumbled," Farley added.

"David runs like that all the time in practice. David plays hard. He's a special person, not just a special player."

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads was impressed, too.

"He is a Big 12-caliber back. There is no question about it," Rhoads said. "He has strength, speed and bounced to where holes were and a lot of times they were holes where guys were supposed to be and they weren't."

Johnson wasn't the only one who had a great game. While the Panther defense gave up some yards, especially because of Sam Richardson's running and passing, UNI came up big on several occasions in the second half.

After Deon Broomfield forced and recovered an Evan Williams fumble, Iowa State had a chance to take the lead while trailing, 21-17. The Panthers held ISU to a Cole Netten field goal try. Sam Tim's sack of Richardson played a key role in stopping the Cyclones short of the end zone.

"That defensive stand was critical to the game," Mark Farley said.

Johnson made his only serious mistake when he gave up a fumble at the Cyclone 1 late in the fourth quarter, denying UNI a chance at an insurance score.

Thus, the Panther defense needed to make one more stop. And it did. Jake Farley's fourth-down tackle on a Richardson pass to Sam Ecby forced Iowa State to give up the ball at its own 23.

Earlier, Richardson hit Justin Coleman with a 59-yard touchdown pass and James White with a 7-yarder. Netten, making his first college appearance, added field goals of 23 and 38 yards.

It wasn't enough. The property line had been moved by the Panthers.

"I just wanted them to represent the university the way we way wanted it to be represented - by how hard we play," Farley said. "Then to come away with a victory shows we're off to the right start."

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