Northern Iowa scored first, but Iowa State regained control of the game and scored 31 unanswered points to down the Panthers 31-7 Saturday in Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.
The Cyclones had to overcome two missed field goals and a turnover early before gaining control of the game. Coach Paul Rhoads says getting the opening game win is important.
“To be on the winning side of the ledger is what we’re concerned about tonight, and we are appreciative to be on that side,” Rhoads says. The Cyclones had lost three straight openers, but Rhoads says he wasn’t nervous about this game against a good Panther team.
“I really wasn’t. I just think that we had made that much progress and it was that big of an emphasis and the kids were that committed to it,” Rhoads says. “…I meet with the staff a half hour before the pre-game meal and I said when it hits I don’t want anything different out of you either, we’ve prepared for adversity, so you stick to the plan and the kids will stick to the plan — and everybody did.”
The Panthers looked like they could stretch their lead after scoring but Coach Mark Farley says he wasn’t feeling confident.
“You know I never felt like we were playing that well all night long, even though we were in the game and we were ahead, it still felt like we weren’t playing that well,” Farley says. “And it just kind of continued when we did get some momentum –we caught a break they gave us the fumble — and then we had an opportunity there to stretch the lead and create some momentum and we didn’t do it, we gave it back to them. That was disappointing part of the whole thing, we had our opportunities, there was enough there to create momentum, and we didn’t take advantage of the situation.”
Farley says he can tell from the sideline when the team is playing well, and he never really got that feeling in this game. “Even though I felt our defense was doing some good things — and there were some good things done by our offense — but there was no consistency in the play. And that’s why you didn’t feel like you could ever get control, because you didn’t have that consistent play.”
Farley played three quarterbacks and says he was looking for someone to show they were taking control. Farley says if they can take the game and use it to make them better in the next game, then it was worth it. He’s says he’ll review everyone’s play. “This gave a lot of guys opportunities, so we can put a starting lineup on the field next week that we’ll know a lot better than the beginning of this football game,” according to Farley.
Sawyer Kollmorgen was one of the Panther quarterbacks to play. “We missed some stuff I think, we’ll go back watch film and see the plays that we missed. You know, credit Iowa State, they are a good team, good defense, but at the same I think when you break it down and see it on film that we beat ourselves. We left some plays out there that we could have made, missed some reads and keys — stuff like that,” Kollmorgen says.
He says they have a lot of work to do. “Coach Farley said this will be one of best games for us if we handle it the right way and we go back and we watch this and learn from it. So, that’s what we need to go as a quarterback group, as an offense and as a team,” Kollmorgen says.
Cyclone sophomore wide receiver Allan Lazard caught four passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. He also had 100 yards in kick returns. Lazard was happy with the way the team overcame adversity.
“Our focus the past nine months was that first win….we struggled at first, we stuck with each other, we kept encouraging each other,” Lazard says.
He credits the defense for changing the game. “Only holding them to one touchdown…from last year that’s unbelievable. I am so proud of those guys and we couldn’t have done it without them,” Lazard says. He says the mood is a lot different this year after getting the win.
“You can just tell, just walking back into the locker room — just so much more swagger, you know everyone’s heads up,” Lazard says. “We’re not down or anything, we’re very excited and ready to play Iowa next,” according to Lazard.
Lazard referenced the Cyclone’s next game which is the big in-state matchup with the Hawkeyes in Ames. Iowa won its season opener Saturday, so both teams will come into the game at 1-0.
The Panthers will play Eastern Washington at home in Cedar Falls.