As a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and having grown up in Cedar Falls, I am a die hard Panther football fan. I started attending Panther football games when I was born in 1976 when the UNI Dome opened. I've seen a lot of games and there is nothing better than the FCS, or I-AA playoffs. I won't get into the details of why the games are exciting and how insane it is that Division I can't see how rational the system is. For those of you not keeping track off the #1 rated Panthers, they have had a record breaking season.
After a 12-0 season the playoffs started this weekend. I, of course, made the drive down to the dome to watch the big game.......I don't miss playoff games. We fans have been waiting for this day, as the last playoff game ended in a loss in 2005 when the panthers were defeated in the national championship game in Chattanooga, TN by Appalachian State.
This weekend, it was New Hampshire. A solid team, with a great quarterback to match up with our ace, Eric Sanders. I won't bore you with play by play, as you can find that on the panthers website (see link in right column). The dome is a crazy place to play. It's loud, it's the playoffs and anything can happen. This game was totally nuts. I've seen good games, I've seen crazy games, but this was one of the best. The panthers led, or were tied, the entire game as the offenses traded scores. New Hampshire found a way to score with just 1:16 left in the game to go ahead for the first time 35-31. Sitting at the game with my panther comrades........we'll call them Rooster,Martini, and my cousin Vinny (for the sake of anonymity), we were devastated, crushed like a small child after realizing their pet hamster can't swim in the toilet. Emotionally shattered like a 7th grader peeing his pants at school.........this was not good.
But wait, it's a bird, it's a plane...........it's the UNI Dome. Eric Sanders, our senior quarterback led the team down the field and threw a 25 yard touchdown pass with just 7 seconds remaining to win the game. We cheered, we cried, we forgot to notice that Rooster left at the half with his daughter........and couldn't remember where Martini's wife and small child were. Luckily, they were home safe, away from the pandemonium and chaos. We lived to play another day, namely, this Saturday, 1pm against.......the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens. Go Panthers!
For a video clip of the winning touchdown: