UNI Kicker and Cedar Falls-Native Matthew Cook Wins MVFC Honors
Matthew Cook has been a special, special teams player since his freshman season kicking for the Panthers.
Otherwise known as 'Matty Ice,' Cook was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference special teams player of the week after banging home field goals from 27, 46, 51, and FIFTY FIVE (55) YARDS (!!!!) this past Saturday. He matched his career high with field goals made in a game and topped his furthest kick prior to the contest not once, but TWICE.
His furthest before this past weekend was a 50-yard bomb he nailed against Iowa State in 2019 -- his first-ever collegiate kick.
"His 55-yarder was the longest kick made in the FCS this past weekend, the longest in the MVFC this season, and the longest in the league since SDSU's Chase Vinatieri's 57-yarder (against UNI) in 2018. The 55-yarder ties for the 12th-longest kick in MVFC history."
Not only did Cook match and surpass career bests, he was an essential piece in No. 20 Northern Iowa defeating the No. 6 team in the country, South Dakota State. As the Panthers came away with a 26-17 victory, his two extra points and four field goals totaled 14 of UNI's points in the ever-important contest.
Cook wasn't the only one who put the team on his back (or leg) this weekend, though.
The UNI defense remains among the best in the FCS after holding Pierre Strong to just 55 yards this Saturday. Prior to the game, Strong was averaging 128 yards per contest, and ranked third nationally in total rushing yards with 770. The SDSU offense as a whole was putting up 225.5 yards per game on the ground, ranking 11th. The Panthers held them to 60.
And it wasn't just the run game for the defense. After a questionable targeting call on safety Benny Sapp III, redshirt freshman Edwin Dearman came in to replace one of the top safeties in the FCS. He held his own and registered two tackles.
AND, on the first possession of the game, safety Korby Sander flew into the Jackrabbit backfield on a blitz, forcing a fumble that linebacker Bryce Flater recovered. Bradrick Shaw scored the initial touchdown of the contest just a few plays later and UNI had the early 7-0 lead that they never relented.
All-American wide receiver Isaiah Weston and Theo Day paired for four catches, 125 yards and the only passing touchdown of the day for the UNI offense. Another one of Weston's catches came overtop of two Jackrabbit defensive backs, as pictured below.
Highlights from the contest:
Next week, the Panthers will take on Southern Illinois in the UNI-Dome., The Salukis are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation according to the FCS Coaches' poll and their only loss so far this season came at the hands of FBS opponent, Kansas State.