AMES — Paul Rhoads wasn’t surprised Iowa State started the game fast on offense. He knew they would.
The Cyclones put up 14 points in the first 15:57 minutes of the game, but were shutout by North Dakota State for the remainder of the day. That’s what caught the sixth-year ISU coach off guard.
Just 17 seconds after going down two touchdowns, the Bison got the spark they were looking for when senior running back John Crockett ran for an 80-yard touchdown without being touched. The score propelled North Dakota State to a 34-14 win against Iowa State on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.
“We did a good job blocking everyone up front,” NDSU coach Chris Klieman said of Crockett’s run. “He made a great cut and outran everybody. I think that gave the defense a little life and got them thinking, ‘If we can go out there and get a stop, we might be able to get this thing tied.’ If we wouldn’t have got that play, things could have been a lot different at half.”
“It was a momentum changer for sure,” Rhoads added.
The Bison piled on 503 yards of total offense against the 253 put up by the Cyclones. Of North Dakota State’s 503-yard output, 299 of those came on the ground, with Crockett rushing for 138 yards on 17 carries.
That kind of potent rushing attack wasn’t something the ISU defenders didn’t see coming. The Bison held a 35:47 to 24:13 advantage in time of possession, which in time can really wear a defense down.
“Some of those long drives, you do get a little winded,” said senior linebacker Jevohn Miller. “But that’s why we go through camp [and] that’s why we go through the off-season. We were able to push through it, we just have to communicate better as a defense.”
In his return as a starter, junior quarterback Sam Richardson finished 20-for-31 in passing for 151 yards with two interceptions. His longest completion of the day was to freshman wide receiver Allen Lazard for 48 yards, which set up a three-yard touchdown run by senior Aaron Wimberly on the next play.
In Iowa State’s opening drive, Richardson marched the offense down the field going 3-for-5 passing for 27 yards while running for 16 yards himself. Rhoads said he saw “good and bad” throughout the day, but overall saw an improved and more poised player.
“He showed a difference in accuracy and ability to throw it with more velocity than he has in the past,” Rhoads said of Richardson. “I thought he was doing a much better job of going through his progressions and not seeing the pressure, not seeing the defenders coming at him, was working with his feet as he saw things down field.”
Richardson was also sacked four times during the game, all of which came after senior center Tom Farniok left the game near the end of the first quarter with an apparent MCL injury. Left guard Jamison Lalk moved over to center with Oni Omoile sliding in at left guard.
While the ISU offense couldn’t find much consistency after Farniok went down going three-and-out four times, Rhoads wasn’t willing to say it was because of the offensive line shuffle.
“If you’re going to win games over the course of a season in a man’s league, you’ve got to be able to overcome a guy going down,” Rhoads said. “Not for a second will I use that as an excuse of what happened.”
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