Cyclones Deliver A Victory
By Rob Gray, Correspondent
AMES — Call it catharsis. A needed no-doubt win amid an agonizing season.
Or, heck, just call it a fitting if frigid Senior Night curtain call for Iowa State, which slipped, slid and finally powered to a cleansing 34-0 triumph Saturday night over no-longer resurgent Kansas before an estimated 30,000 hardy fans (54,081 paid) on the coldest game night in Jack Trice Stadium history.
“To go out at home with a victory, with a performance like that means the world to me,” Cyclone coach Paul Rhoads said. “And I know it means the world to them.”
The victory snapped a seven-game home losing skid dating to last October’s 35-21 win over Baylor.
Grant Rohach threw for a career-high smashing 300 yards and two touchdowns for the Cyclones (2-9, 1-7), who dropped the Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7) for the fourth straight time and notched their first conference shutout since a 41-0 drubbing of Baylor in 2001.
“It’s for the seniors,” said Rohach, whose previous career best yardage total was 179. “That was a big focus for us, to get the seniors a win.”
Kansas, which ended a 27-game Big 12 losing streak last week, saw its string of consecutive road losses expand to 24.
As for those ISU seniors:
l Linebacker Jeremiah George forced the first fumble of his career and recorded 14 tackles.
The fumble was recovered by fellow senior Jacques Washington and set up a 21-yard Cole Netten field goal that put the Cyclones ahead 13-0 with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
George entered the ranked fourth nationally in stops per game at 11.2. Washington now has 303 tackles in his career — becoming one of three ISU defensive backs to record at least 300.
“To come out here and win this game even though our record is what it is, that shows a lot of character by a lot of people,” George said.
l Wide receiver Justin Coleman set a game career high in receptions with six in the first half alone. He finished with eight catches for 78 yards.
“It’s a good way to go out, I guess,” Coleman said. “I definitely wouldn’t have expected that we were going to throw the ball at all in those conditions, but we got a good thing going and Grant played well.”
l Running backs Shontrelle Johnson and James White hit holes hard and pushed the pile often en route to 84 yards and 39 rushing yards, respectively. Both scored touchdowns — Johnson, his second of the season; White, his first.
“It was a heart-warming feeling to end it on a high note and finally get a win,” Johnson said.
As for the icy conditions: they played a factor.
Footing proved to be virtually nonexistent, but Kansas rode tough runs by James Sims to the ISU 26 on its initial possession. Then Cyclone cornerback Nigel Tribune rose up, shedding a blocker on fourth-and-4 and stopping Christian Matthews for a 1-yard gain on a screen pass.
ISU’s offense responded with a quick-strike drive that culminated in Rohach’s 58-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Aaron Wimberly.
No slips there — simply a four-play, 75-yard drive that put the Cyclones ahead 7-0 with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
ISU added a 22-yard Cole Netten field goal in the second quarter and led 10-0 at halftime.
After another Netten field goal — this one 21 yards — the Cyclones essentially put the game away.
Rohach hit receiver Quenton Bundgage for a 15-yard touchdown that made the score 20-0 with 6:00 left in the third quarter. Bundrage — who set up White’s scoring run with a 42-yard catch moments later — finished with three catches for 63 yards. Rohach’s two touchdowns and one interception improved his season ratio to 4-to-6.
“Just gaining confidence,” Rohach said.
So there were smiles all around, but the night clearly belonged to the seniors, who got their final at-home wish: a win.
The coldest night at the stadium turned into a scene for warm memories — and possible momentum into a season finale at West Virginia.
“It’s a win,” said senior running back Jeff Woody, who heard his name chanted repeatedly in the final minutes. “I got to shake all the hands of the people that were still there as we ran around the stadium. And we got to sing the fight song one more time. That’s what I wanted to do.”
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