No. 19 Cowboys hogtie defenseless Cyclones
AMES – Oklahoma State came into Jack Trice Stadium with plenty of questions in its backfield.
Desmond Roland made sure the Cowboys left Ames with at least one definitive answer.
Rumbling for 219 yards and four touchdowns in his first career start, Roland carried No. 19 Oklahoma State in a 58-27 Big 12 victory over Iowa State Saturday.
The Cowboys (6-1, 3-1) broke open a 28-20 halftime lead with 24 unanswered points in the second half, erasing a promising second quarter comeback by the Cyclones (1-6, 0-4).
“When you play an opponent like (Oklahoma State), you can’t give them things,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. “You can’t make mistakes, you can’t turn the ball over, you can’t have foolish penalties. We had way too much of that in 60 minutes to give ourselves an opportunity to win the football game.”
Things started to unwind when Roland shed several Iowa State defenders and scooted a career-best 58 yards for the score stretching Oklahoma State’s advantage to 38-20 with 6:38 left in third. The play came less than two minutes after Ben Grogan’s 22-yard field goal and the Cowboys barely needed that much time to strike again.
Tyler Johnson scooped up Ernst Bruns’ fumble after a catch and returned it 54 yards to widen the margin to 45-20 with 4:17 to go in quarter.
Roland capped the Cowboys’ second half flurry with his fourth TD on a 4-yard push at 10:28 to play, extending the lead to 32. The junior tailback entered the game with just 147 yards and two rushing touchdowns on the season.
“We knew that once they got in a specific package, they were going to try to run the ball and we just didn’t do a good enough job of stopping it,” said ISU linebacker Jeremiah George, who led the defense with 12 tackles, including two for loss. “Our job as defenders is to be in the correct spots and have the correct gap to make the tackle when you’re presented the chance and we didn’t do that enough.”
Oklahoma State jumped out to a 21-0 lead less than 10 minutes in and led 28-7 on Roland’s 6-yard TD run to start the second. Iowa State answered with its most explosive drive – a 5-play, 88-yard tour de force that took just 2:27 off the clock. Sam Richardson lofted a 20-yard pass to Tad Ecby and followed with Iowa State’s longest run of the season – a 51-yard keeper. DeVondrick Nealy punctuated the drive on the ground from 11 yards out with a high-flying leap inside the left pylon, which was upheld for a touchdown after review, cutting the deficit to 28-14.
Grant Rohach directed the Cyclones’ next scoring drive – relieving Richardson who took a hard shot from behind while sliding to the ground. The redshirt freshman released a pinpoint 20-yard pass to Quenton Bundrage in the right corner of the end zone with 2:59 left in the half. James Castleman blocked the ensuing extra point though Iowa State – and the sellout home crowd – suddenly believed another upset over the Cowboys was possible.
“(I was) excited about overcoming the adversity that we did and the energy with what our kids kept fighting back with,” said Rhoads, who felt his team had the momentum entering the locker room and still had some after holding the Cowboys to a field goal to start the third.
“With the ability to come out and get a stop, which we did in a way, you go get a score and we’ve got a chance in the last 30 minutes to knock off a top-15 team. We didn’t do enough execution-wise in the second half to make it happen.”
Richardson, the Cyclones’ leading rusher on the day with 64 yards on 11 carries, didn’t return after halftime nor did Iowa State’s momentum established in the second quarter.
Jeff Woody ended Iowa State’s near-23 minute scoring drought with a 1-yard plunge at 10:28 in the fourth, though the ‘Pokes negated it with a 1-yard dive from Jeremy Smith.
Oklahoma State outrushed the Cyclones 342-154 with one fewer attempt (47-48). The Cowboys’ ground game started and ended with Roland who closed the team’s opening drive with a 2-yard TD – boosted by a pass interference call against the ‘Clones. Justin Gilbert picked off Richardson on the ensuing drive and raced 31 yards down the sideline for a 14-0 lead less than five minutes in.
The Cowboys continued with Clint Chelf’s 8-yard fade to Charlie Moore extending the margin to 21-0 with 5:45 remaining in the first. Bundrage hauled in a 22-yard pass from Richardson to get the Cyclones on the board with less than three minutes left in the first. The Palmetto, Fla., native finished with three receptions for 50 yards and raised his season TD catch total to six – tied for 10th in school history.
Richardson completed 6 of his 15 passes for 95 yards, a TD and an interception, while Rohach was 12-of-23 for 97 yards and a score. Chelf connected on just 10-of-26 attempts for 78 yards, one touchdown and one pick, but also rushed for 85 yards on nine carries.
The Cyclones held a seven-minute advantage in time of possession but converted just 4-of-20 third down attempts and were penalized 10 times for 72 yards including a pair of costly pass interference calls in the first half.
After playing its third game against a ranked foe in as many weeks, the Cyclones will try to halt their four-game skid against Kansas State (3-4, 1-3) in Manhattan, Kan. Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Wildcats picked up their first conference win with a 35-12 rout of West Virginia Saturday at home.
The Cyclones must win out to reach the bowl-game minimum of six wins, though Iowa State will shoot for nothing less.
“It would be incredible if we get five in a row, but that’s what our goal is,” said George. “The standard around here is to win football games, not just to win six, but this is the position that we’re in.”
Aaron Wimberly was out of action after tweaking a hamstring in practice Thursday. Rhoads expects Richardson to be ready to practice Sunday. … Saturday marked the Cyclones’ third straight game against a ranked opponent following a 42-35 loss at then-No. 20 Texas Tech on Oct. 12 and a 71-7 setback at then-No. 12 Baylor on Oct. 19. … Before facing Iowa State, Roland’s highest rushing total of the year was a pair of 46-yard efforts. … ISU has had at least one touchdown pass in 10 straight games, its longest string since 1997. … Jack Trice Stadium was sold out for the third time this season and ISU has had 17 consecutive home crowds of more than 50,000. … George led the defense with 12 tackles – two for loss – and has reached double digits in tackles in six consecutive games. … Nigel Tribune grabbed his first career interception. … David Irving blocked a PAT for the second consecutive week and has three in his career – the most by a Cyclone since Nick Leaders amassed four in 2004-05.