Iowa State Claims First Big 12 Win Over Baylor
AMES, Iowa— The Iowa State football team operated in high gear Saturday night. Establishing control on both offense and defense, the Cyclones defeated Baylor, 24-10, in Jack Trice Stadium to end an 11-game Big 12 losing streak. ISU head coach Paul Rhoads, who notched his first league victory, raved about the performance of his Cyclones in the postgame press conference.
“I talked to our football team about being resilient," Rhoads said. "You get to a point where you are 3-3 with two gut-wrenching losses and we haven’t had a bad week of preparation yet. I don’t know if into seven games in a season, I have been around a team that has prepared as well as they have. To do that and suffer the defeats we have and to continue to show up and play is truly hats off to the men in the locker room."
The Cyclones (4-3/1-2 Big 12) recorded 454 yards of total offense in the win. The Big 12’s top rushing offense continued to roll, racking up 240 yards on the ground with four players rushing for more than 40 yards.
After staking Baylor an early 3-0 lead, the Cyclones posted 14 second-quarter points behind the stellar play of quarterback Austen Arnaud. The Ames native scored on a 1-yard run after leading the Cyclones on an impressive 12-play, 73-yard drive to help the Cyclones go ahead for the first time.
ISU quickly made it 14-3 with another long march for a touchdown. Arnaud was 7-of-8 for 71 yards passing in the drive, connecting with Derrick Catlett on a 4-yard scoring strike to give the Cyclones an 11-point cushion. The Cyclones were poised to score again late in the first half, but Arnaud was intercepted at the BU 2-yard line, as ISU went into the half with a 14-3 advantage.
Marquis Hamilton had 85 yards receiving on eight catches in the first half, while Alexander Robinson rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries. ISU had 19 first-half first downs.
Two key plays, one on defense and one on special teams, helped pad the Cyclone lead to 24-3 by the end of the third quarter. On the Bears’ first drive of the second half, BU opted to go for it on a 4th-and-1 situation at its own 32-yard line. The Cyclone defense rose to the occasion, stuffing Blake Szymanski for no gain to give the Cyclones great field position. Grant Mahoney later drilled a 45-yard field goal to improve the Cyclone lead to 17-3.
On BU’s next possession, ISU’s Zac Sandvig blocked Derek Epperson’s punt attempt to once again provide ISU with great field position. This time the Cyclones capitalized with a touchdown, as Jerome Tiller rambled 20 yards to push the Cyclones ahead, 24-3 with 7:59 left in the third quarter.
The Cyclone defense took care of the rest, never allowing the Bears to really pose a threat until BU scored a touchdown with 0:09 seconds left in the game. Fred Garrin tallied two of ISU’s three second-half picks, joining teammate David Sims with a two-interception game this season.
"Field position was crucial todayw," Rhoads added. "We pinned them down in their end of the field and made them work. When that happens, sooner or later the offense will make a mistake. Turnovers are always big in a football game and they were big tonight. When you win the turnover battle, you have a chance to win the game.”
Hamilton matched his career high with 97 receiving yards on a career-best nine catches and Tiller, who filled in the majority of the second half at quarterback, rushed for 74 yards and was 7-of-8 on his pass attempts. Robinson ended the game with 83 yards rushing. He only received three carries after intermission.
Jesse Smith led ISU in tackles for the fourth game in a row with 11.
The Cyclones travel to Nebraska next weekend with an 11:30 a.m. kick on FSN.