Iowa State used two third-quarter interception returns for touchdowns to break open a close game and shut out Northern Iowa 27-0 Saturday in Ames. The Cyclones struggled offensively after losing starting quarterback Austen Arnaud to an injury on the first series. Coach Paul Rhoads says the game showed them they have a lot to work on as the move back into Big 12 Conference play.
Rhoads says they know exactly where they are at with a 2-2 record after four games. He says they are a young, inexperienced defense that is fighting and scratching and an offense that has not gotten productive yet, and needs to do that. He says they have a kicking game that has been consistent, and an overall work ethic that will keep them fighting. Arnaud reinjured a shoulder he hurt last week on the first drive.
Rhoads says Arnaud got thrown down on a play and jammed his shoulder and Jerome Tiller came in an played the rest of the way. Rhoads says they won’t know until next Saturday if Arnaud will be ready to play and told reporters not to ask him about it as he won’t make a decision until then.
The Panthers came out to start the second half and were driving down trailing only 13-0 when Jeremey Reeves picked off Zach Davis’ pass and returned it 94-yards for a Cyclone touchdown. A-J Klein returned another pick 25 yards for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter. The Cyclone defense had one other interception and a fumble recovery, and Rhoads said they were making a statement.
Rhoads says the defense said people can talk bad about them, they know they are young and inexperienced, but people need to understand that they are going to come to work every day and are trying to do their job to the best of their ability. Rhoads says the job they did against the Panthers was “pretty commendable.” Iowa State’s offense got its only touchdown of the night off a fake field goal.
Kicker Grant Mahoney took an option pitch from his holder and picked up five yards on a fourth and four. Mahoney says they saw hard pressure coming off the edge and thought they had a chance and it worked out. Mahoney played at Lin-Marr of Marion as a reciever in high school and said he has never run with the ball. Mahoney had another big play, making a touchdown saving tackle on a kickoff return. He said it’s something he always prepares for in practice.
Mahoney says they work on tackling once a week in practice and he just felt he was doing a drill. The Cyclones return to Big 12 Conference play Saturday at home against Texas Tech. U.N.I. falls to 1-2 and will host South Dakota State Saturday in Cedar Falls.