Injuries, big plays hamper Cyclones in season opener


Redshirt senior offensive line center Tom Farniok calls out a play during the North Dakota State game Aug. 30 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Bison 14-34.

Beau Berkley

Four plays into the ISU offense’s first possession of the season against North Dakota State and it was faced with a familiar problem.

Quenton Bundrage, the team’s leading receiver from last season, went down during the play and did not return. That loss hurt, but not initially — the Cyclones drove down to North Dakota State’s 16 yard line and running back Aaron Wimberly ran the ball in for a touchdown.

Four plays into the ISU defense’s first crack at the NDSU offense, Kamari Cotton-Moya was flagged for targeting and was disqualified from the competition on a hit that ISU coach Paul Rhoads called a “judgement call.”

The ejection of Cotton-Moya didn’t hurt initially, as the ISU defense held its ground that series and forced a punt.

Five plays into the ISU offense’s second position and center Tom Farniok, one of the team’s three captains, went down with a twisted ACL. Now the dominoes were starting to fall.

“Both of those guys [Bundrage and Farniok], they lead their position groups, so it was big thing for both of them to go down,” said running back DeVondrick Nealy. “Even though they went down, we still need to learn to progress and challenge adversity.”

Despite the player losses, Iowa State had a 14-0 lead with 14:03 to go in the second quarter, and it looked like it had laid an early foundation for the first win of the season.

Wimberly had found his way to the end zone twice and quarterback Sam Richardson ended the first quarter with six completions on eight attempts, including 32 rushing yards on four attempts.

The defense carried its weight as well and held the Bison scoreless in the first quarter.

On North Dakota State’s first possession in the second quarter, John Crockett, who has rushed for 1,000 yards each of his past two seasons, broke loose for an 80-yard run. But that was not the only run sparked during that play.

The Bison went on a 34-point tear en route to a 34-14 victory against the Cyclones.

“It was a momentum changer for sure, but you still have 14-7 and you still have the ball,” Rhoads said. “We are not fragile at this point to give up those poinst and the bottom falls out.”

Rhoads said that the loss of Farniok was not why the offense stalled, but combine that with the loss of Bundrage and the offense might start to hurt.

“We can’t say Tom Farniok not being out there was why we got shut out from 14 early points to nothing,” Rhoads said. “With Quenton, one of your top weapons going down, you combine the two of them, now you’re starting to add things up.

Looking ahead, Rhoads said that he expects Farniok to return for next week’s game against Kansas State. The jury is still out on Bundrage, who will undergo an MRI in the coming days.

Iowa State plays Kansas State at 11 a.m. Sept. 5 at Jack Trice Stadium.