Western Illinois Beat 37-3 by Speedy Iowa State
AMES, Iowa (AP) — Western Illinois coach Mark Hendrickson watched in consternation as Iowa State zipped to touchdowns on its first two possessions Saturday.
Unless the Leathernecks could slow their opponent down, things would get ugly.
Iowa State did end up winning easily, 37-3, but the FCS Leathernecks regrouped defensively after the opening scores and made the Cyclones work for it.
"It was very frustrating to all of us, including the players, that for some reason we didn't start off fast," Hendrickson said. "They have exceptional speed on their side of the ball. But it was great that we settled down."
Steele Jantz threw three touchdown passes and James White ran 56 yards for another score to lead Iowa State, which had to overcome a succession of penalties and turnovers. The Leathernecks intercepted two passes and recovered a fumble and their offense was turnover-free.
"I felt like we had a good game plan," defensive back David McDaniel said. "We executed and had a couple of breaks, and we're going to get better from it."
Even more frustrating than Iowa State's fast start, the Leathernecks lost offensive guard Max Dancer, a team captain, to an apparent left leg injury in the first half. Dancer was taken off the field on a cart.
"Without a doubt, it was the most disappointing thing that has happened to us this year," Hendrickson said. "It was a big blow to us, and it will be hard to continue without him."
Penalties and turnovers stymied Iowa State at times, but the Cyclones still had enough to start 3-0 for the second straight year and sixth time since 1981. Four of the five previous 3-0 starts led to bowl appearances.
Jantz completed 19 of 26 passes for 209 yards, with touchdown throws of 16 and 5 yards to Chris Young and 22 yards to Aaron Horne. He was intercepted once and lost a fumble.
Western Illinois (2-1) trailed 31-0 before Pat Smith kicked a 26-yard field goal in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Iowa State was playing its second-team defense by then.
While never in danger during the game, Iowa State still has a lot to clean up before its Big 12 opener against Texas Tech on Sept. 29. The Cyclones were penalized seven times for 75 yards and were minus-three in turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble.
Western Illinois started the season with victories over Butler, a non-scholarship FCS program, and Division II Indianapolis. But an opponent from a BCS conference simply was too much for the outmanned Leathernecks.
"I feel like we got our act together and came together as a team," Western Illinois linebacker J.J. Raffelson said. "We had some plays at the beginning that didn't go exactly our way, but we definitely stood out for a while."
It looked as though a major rout was in the offing when Iowa State jumped to a 14-0 lead in the first 5½ minutes on White's TD, the longest run of the season for the Cyclones, and Jantz's 16-yard pass to Young. The Cyclones then stalled repeatedly and most of the damage was self-inflicted: a fumble by Jantz and an interception, then two personal fouls and three holding penalties.
But the defense and Kirby Van Der Kamp's punting kept Western Illinois in check. The Leathernecks never drove farther than the Iowa State 44 until late in the third quarter.
The second holding penalty against the Cyclones nullified Horne's 61-yard punt return for a touchdown with less than 2 minutes left in the first half. But the offense regrouped and Jantz threw four passes to Young for 55 yards, including a touchdown that made it 21-0.
Young finished with a career-high seven catches for 86 yards, matching his reception total for the first two games. He caught only six passes last year.
Jantz's touchdown pass to Horne, a perfect strike down the middle of the field, made it 28-0 early in the third quarter. Edwin Arceo tacked on a 49-yard field goal to make it 31-0, enabling coach Paul Rhoads to get his second-teamers into the game.
Iowa State jumped on the Leathernecks early, as expected. On the fifth play of the game, White took a handoff, burst through a hole in the middle of the line, cut to his right and outran the pursuit to the end zone, helped by Young's downfield block.
Western Illinois managed only 81 yards in the first half and 178 for the game. Nikko Watson gained 76 yards in 17 carries, while Josh Hudson completed 9 of 18 passes for 73 yards. He was sacked twice and hurried on several other throws.
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