Surprise: It's The Oklahoma State Running Game That Beats Cyclones
By Rob Gray, Correspondent and Scott Westerberg, Reporter
AMES You expected it to be Josh Stewart. Maybe quarterback Clint Chelf, or Tracy Moore.
These are the guys who shine up No. 19 Oklahoma State's potent passing attack. But running back Desmond Roland?
A first time-starter, darting free and plowing forward as part of the nation's formerly 95th-best rushing unit?
"They ran for 342 yards," Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads said after the Cowboys dispatched his reeling Cyclones, 58-27, Saturday before a sellout crowd of 56,800 at Jack Trice Stadium. "Whoever was carrying it was impressive."
Roland shined so brightly he eclipsed game career highs in yards (219) and touchdowns (four). He rushed for 165 yards in the second half alone and fueled a running game-based 17-0 third quarter that extinguished ISU's hopes for a comeback.
"I was waiting for this opportunity for a long time," the junior from Dallas said after the Cowboys' usual weapons were held largely in check.
So the Cyclones' painful and injury-riddled wait for a first 2013 Big 12 win continues.
And about those injuries and missing guys ...
Starting quarterback Sam Richardson left the game after a hit to his head in the second quarter and did not return.
"Neck and head were both concerns initially," Rhoads said of Richardson, who threw for one touchdown to Quenton Bundrage and an interception that went the other way before being replaced by Grant Rohach. "At the time, he had some tightness in his upper back, down from his neck, muscular-wise, and in a game where you need to be full speed to protect yourself, first and foremost, I didn't think it was right to put him back out there. I anticipate him ... being available (at Kansas State)."
Rohach also connected with Bundrage for a first-half touchdown, but criticized his own performance after playing for the second straight week in a blowout loss.
"I was a lot more comfortable than I was last week, but it's exactly what (offensive coordinator Courtney) Messingham told me after the game: 'You need to throw strikes,'" Rohach said. "And he's absolutely right. Guys are open, need to hit them."
Different jolts keep coming.
Top tailback Aaron Wimberly couldn't play because of a hamstring pull, linebacker Luke Knott sat out because of a lingering hip/groin issue and starting defensive end Willie Scott did not play, Rhoads said, because of "a failure to execute the expectations of the program the past week."
Add those momentarily sidelined headliners to the numerous injuries across the offensive line and slumped shoulders and downward glances could crop up. They haven't.
"We don't use excuses around here," said linebacker Jeremiah George, who has 30 tackles while the Cyclones were outscored by an average of 47.5 points the past two weeks. "That's not what we believe in. We're going to keep fighting."
ISU certainly did scrap after what Rhoads termed an "atrocious" start that turned into a 21-0 deficit within 10 minutes.
The Cyclones responded by outscoring the Cowboys 20-7 and trailed just 28-20 at the break.
But then Roland got rolling.