UNI opened the NCAA FCS playoffs with a decisive 46-7 first-round victory over visiting Monmouth at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday (Nov. 25, 2017).

The 20th-ranked Panthers (8-4) took control of the game at the opening kickoff and were never threatened by their over-matched opponent. UNI scored on its first nine possessions and rolled up 520 yards of offense in the victory.

Quarterback Eli Dunne shredded the Hawks' defense, completing 18-of-26 passes for 260 yards and four touchdowns. Daurice Fountain led the receiving corp, catching 10 passes for 139 yards and two scores. On the ground, J’Veyon Browning rushed for a career-high 136 yards.

UNI racked up a season-high 246 rushing yards, while throwing for 274 through the air. The Panthers were a perfect 9-for-9 on red zone scoring chances (drives inside their opponent's 20-yard line). Dunne threw four touchdown passes in the first half, which featured a season-high 33 points by UNI.

The Panthers began the blowout after Nikholi Jaghai snagged the first of his two interceptions of the game. The pick -- one of four by the UNI defense -- set up a seven-play, 47-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 16-yard throw from Dunne to Isaiah Weston early in the first quarter.

UNI ended the period with a 14-0 lead after Jared Farley turned in a spectacular one-handed grab for a touchdown. Dunne floated a high pass to the linebacker-turned-fullback in the front corner of the end zone.

Dunne and Fountain hooked up twice (17 and 14 yards) on scores in the second quarter, while Sam Drysdale added a pair of field goals to put UNI up 33-0 at intermission.

With an insurmountable lead, the Panthers kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter. They added 13 points to their lead, scoring on field goals by Drysdale and Austin Errthum, and a 17-yard run by back-up quarterback Colton Howell.

No. 25 Monmouth (9-3) scored its only touchdown against the UNI reserves with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Hawks, making their first playoff appearance in program history, managed only 202 yards of total offense (61 rushing) against the Panthers' stout defense.

UP NEXT: UNI advances to the second round of the FCS Playoffs. The Panthers travel to Brookings, S.D., where they'll face Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) rival South Dakota State at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 2). The match-up will be the second this season for the two squads. UNI won the earlier meeting, beating the Jackrabbits, 38-18, in Brookings on Oct. 14.

Photo By: Elwin Huffman - Townsquare Media
Photo By: Elwin Huffman - Townsquare Media

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