ISU football drops season-opener 28-20 to UNI


UNI junior running back David Johnson breaks a tackle for a touchdown against Iowa State on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, at Jack Trice Stadium. The Panthers upset the higher division Cyclones 28-20.

Alex Halsted

Iowa State simply couldn’t finish.

That was the overriding thought by the Cyclones on Saturday after they lost to in-state rival Northern Iowa 28-20 to start the season. What Iowa State does next is simple.

“We find the safety on the gun that shot our foot off,” said ISU running back Jeff Woody. “We made a lot of mistakes to ourselves; we missed tackles all over the place. That’s something that we will get corrected.

“Offensively, we just need to finish. We left 20 points out on the board.”

UNI running back David Johnson made the missed tackles evident, breaking free on a 37-yard run in the first quarter to put the Panthers on the board first. Johnson also broke free on a 27-yard run in the second quarter.

Iowa State was never able to find a way to contain the UNI junior as he carried the ball 23 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Johnson also had four receptions for 41 yards and the Panthers’ other two scores through the air, accounting for all 28 of the team’s points.

“He had a great night, and he’s a great player. He’s a Big 12-talented back; there’s no question about that,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “He bounced to where holes were, and a lot of times those holes were where our guys were supposed to be — and they weren’t.”

Iowa State answered Johnson’s first quarter touchdown run when quarterback Sam Richardson connected with Justin Coleman in the middle of the field for a 59-yard touchdown.

The Cyclones trailed 21-7 in the first half before Richardson connected with running back James White to draw a touchdown at the half.

But Iowa State never found a way to capitalize on other opportunities.

Kicker Edwin Arceo missed field goals from 48 and 54 yards in the first half. In the second half, the Cyclones twice settled for Cole Netten field goals — once when the ISU offense stalled at the UNI five and another time following a fumble recovery at the UNI 20 — leaving points on the field.

“I feel like we have to do a better job on first and second down to put yourself in position to get first downs and keep moving the ball,” Coleman said, of ways Iowa State can fix its season-opening problems. “We can’t be kicking field goals and being third and long a lot.”

Had Iowa State pushed the ball into the end zone instead of settling for a field after recovering a UNI fumble in the third quarter, it would have taken a 24-20 lead.

“It would have been nice to get a touchdown to really take momentum,” said defensive back Deon Broomfield, who recovered the fumble. “Anytime you get a turnover like that you want to capitalize off it, and we just didn’t capitalize off it.”

Instead, Northern Iowa held onto the lead and extended it to eight with a Johnson touchdown in the fourth quarter. Johnson fumbled at the 1-yard line going into the end zone with 1:44 to play, giving the Cyclones one final opportunity.

That drive stalled after Iowa State gained 18 yards, leaving the Cyclones able only to wonder what could have been had they been able to finish. 

“You can’t base your living off ifs and buts, but we need to fix the mistakes that caused those issues,” Woody said. “Once that happens, we’ll be fine.”