CY-HAWK CELEBRATION: Cyclones leap past rival Kansas on Senior Night, claim first Big 12 victory
AMES – A little dose of confidence did wonders for Grant Rohach.
Buoyed by a decent performance in a loss to Oklahoma a week ago, the Iowa State freshman passed for a season-best 300 yards and two touchdowns and the Cyclones beat Kansas 34-0 on a frigid Saturday night for their first Big 12 victory.
“He left the Oklahoma game feeling better about his play,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “And on Tuesday, he was a confident and relaxed quarterback on the practice field. He was a different guy.”
James White and Shontrelle Johnson each ran for a touchdown to top off their Senior Night and Cole Netten kicked two field goals for the Cyclones (2-9, 1-7), who broke a seven-game losing streak at home and sent Kansas to its 24th straight road loss.
Just one week after breaking a 27-game conference losing streak, the Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7) failed to capitalize on some early scoring opportunities and never got much going in the second half, either.
Rohach, who had not thrown a touchdown pass in his five previous games, finished 15 of 20 with one interception and scoring throws of 58 yards to Aaron Wimberly and 15 yards to Quenton Bundrage.
“I think the constant starts and the more reps I get, I get more confident out there,” Rohach said. “And how well the guys played around me this whole week and into the game, it helps the confidence a lot.”
It was the coldest game in Jack Trice Stadium history – 8 degrees at kickoff and 3 by the start of the second half – and the field was frozen and slick. But it didn’t bother the Cyclones, who amassed a season-high 502 yards and recorded their first shutout since beating Northern Iowa 27-0 on Sept. 25, 2010.
Iowa State had not blanked a conference opponent since a 41-0 victory over Baylor in 2001 and had not won had home since beating Baylor on Oct. 27 of last season.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Johnson said. “The season didn’t quite end up like we wanted, but this win was definitely a big thing for us. We celebrated. Water is all over the locker room right now.”
Kansas’ James Sims rushed for 114 yards in 21 carries to run his season total to 1,028 and become the first Jayhawk player with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
But freshman quarterback Montell Cozart was ineffective in his second start, completing just 4-of-12 passes for 20 yards and one interception. He was replaced in the third quarter by previous starter Jake Heaps.
“I’m as disappointed this week as I was excited last week,” Kansas offensive lineman Gavin Howard said. “This is one of the most disappointing losses I’ve ever had in my career here. I honestly don’t know how it happened. We’ll have to watch film to see exactly what is going on.”
Iowa State led 10-0 at halftime and put the game away with 17 third-quarter points.
Netten kicked a 21-yard field goal and Iowa State got the ball back at the Kansas 38 after a short punt.
Six plays later, Rohach hit Bundrage on the right sideline and the sophomore wideout broke a tackle and fought his way into the end zone.
After a Kansas three-and-out, Rohach completed passes of 18 yards to Justin Coleman and 42 yards to Bundrage before White burst up the middle on a 5-yard touchdown run to make it 27-0, a safe cushion on a night like this.
Johnson added to it with a 23-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter.
“It was a heartwarming feeling to end it on a high note and finally get a win,” said Johnson, who finished with 84 yards in 13 carries. “Like I talked about earlier this week, go out there and have a great Senior Night and get a win for the fans.”
Iowa State, which has struggled to get its offense going early in games, struck on its second possession.
Wimberly slipped behind the defense and no one was near him when he caught Rohach’s pass and turned it into a 58-yard touchdown, the longest play of Rohach’s young career. Netten added a 22-yard field goal to make it 10-0.
Kansas had nothing to show for three drives into Iowa State territory in the opening half.
ISU’s Nigel Tribune stopped receiver Christian Matthews well short of a first down on fourth-and-4 at the Cyclone 26 on the Jayhawks’ first possession. Later, two nifty runs by Cozart got the Jayhawks to the ISU 13, where a horde of tacklers stuffed Sims for no gain on fourth-and-1.
Late in the half, the Jayhawks reached the 37, only to be frustrated by a holding penalty and Jansen Watson’s interception of Cozart’s heave to the end zone.
“On a night like this, you just play a little different,” said Rhoads, who saw 21 seniors play their last home game. “You have a little extra something about you. I think that’s been chronicled in sports for a long, long time. Sometimes you just play up. Tonight, they did.”
The coldest game at Jack Trice Stadium previously was a 17-14 loss to Colorado on Nov. 23, 1991, when it was 17 at kickoff and blowing snow obliterated the yard lines and numbers.
This season also had the warmest game in stadium history.
It was 92 when the Cyclones opened the season against Northern Iowa on Aug. 31.