Cyclones Down Jayhawks Behind Second-Half Surge
AMES, Iowa- Iowa State scored 21 third-quarter points to break open a close game en route to a 28-16 victory over Kansas Saturday afternoon at Jack Trice Stadium.
After a sluggish start, the Cyclone offense was reenergized after the halftime break, rolling out 278 second-half yards of total offense, including 141 on the ground, to improve to 5-4 on the season and 3-2 in Big 12 play. The Cyclones totaled 400 yards of total offense in the game, reaching the 400-yard mark for the third time this season. KU falls to 2-6 overall and 0-4 in league play.
Iowa State, now one win away from becoming bowl eligible for the second consecutive season, also received a strong effort from its defense, holding the Jayhawks to 268 yards of total offense. The victory ended a five-game losing streak to the Jayhawks.
Kansas controlled much of the first half as the Cyclone offense struggled to find their groove. Two field goals by Jacob Branstetter put the Jayhawks up by a 6-0 margin after the first quarter.
Josh Lenz finally put a spark into the Cyclones by returning a punt 62 yards for a touchdown with 4:24 left in the half to make it 7-6 Iowa State. Lenz dodged a number of Jayhawk defenders to record Iowa State's first punt return for a touchdown since Ryan Baum took one in for a score against Northern Iowa in 2006.
Branstetter booted his third field goal right before the half to give KU a 9-7 advantage at the break.
The Iowa State offense made its first statement on the opening drive of the second half, going 74 yards on nine plays to move ahead 14-9 with 12:18 left in the third quarter. Alexander Robinson capped off the drive on a two-yard touchdown run, his 26th career rushing TD.
After forcing KU to punt on its first possession of the second half, the Cyclone offense kept their foot on the gas, mounting a 16-play, 89-yard touchdown drive to go ahead 21-9 with 4:22 left in the third period. Jeff Woody dove in from three yards to register his first career touchdown. Austen Arnaud totaled 33 yards and Robinson recorded 24 yards rushing in the drive.
KU's next drive was kept alive by a roughing the punter call against the Cyclones, however Jake Knott ended the drive with the first turnover of the game for ISU, picking off a Quinn Mecham pass and returning it to the KU 45-yard line. It was Knott's team-high fourth interception of the season.
Just three plays later, Shontrelle Johnson broke free on a 33-yard touchdown run to close out a 21-point third quarter for the Cyclones and improving their lead to 28-9.
KU scored its only touchdown with 0:07 left in the game.
Robinson finished the game with 117 yards rushing, becoming the fifth Cyclone back to reach 3,000 yards in a career. He moves to No. 4 on Iowa State's career rushing list with 3,088 yards. It was his 12th 100-yard rushing game of his career. Arnaud threw for 168 yards and had 59 yards rushing. Jake Williams had a team-high five receptions for 38 yards.
Knott had a team-high 13 tackles to go along with his interception and one sack to pace the Cyclone defense.
Iowa State plays host to Nebraska next Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on ABC.