Cyclone football ends season on unhappy note


Quarterback Jerome Tiller is taken down by a Missouri opponent during the game Saturday. Missouri defeated Iowa State 14-0.

David Merrill

The warm, sunny atmosphere that greeted the Cyclones (5-7, 3-5 Big 12) at their bowl game in Arizona last season was a distant memory. All that was left was the cold, silent walk back to the locker room.

Iowa State’s 14-0 loss to Missouri (9-2, 5-2) on Saturday gave the team a record of 5-7. With that record, Iowa State misses out on bowl eligibility and playing in a bowl game this season.

The offense totaled 332 yards of offense, but moved it into the red zone just twice. Iowa State failed to convert on both of those chances.

Sophomore quarterback Jerome Tiller got the start in place of injured quarterback Austen Arnaud.

“We just couldn’t score,” said Tiller as he tried to hold back the tears that were forming in his eyes. “I feel like I let down the team. I wasn’t able to come out with the victory.”

Tiller was 13-of-31 for 155 yards and was sacked three times. Tiller also turned the ball over once on a fumble.

Coach Paul Rhoads said he wouldn’t say much about Tiller’s performance until he watches the game film, but he did say he liked his effort. 

He talked about the expectations his young quarterback was dealing with going into the game.

“He played with everything he had,” Rhoads said. “He felt a large burden on his shoulders today. This was different than taking over in the middle of the season. This game, you have to win if you’re going to go bowling.”

Adding to the bowl game pressure was the pressure of helping the senior class get to a bowl game and getting a win for Arnaud.

Senior running back Alexander Robinson’s message to Tiller after the game was simple.

“I just told him to keep his head up and keep playing,” Robinson said. “He’s going to be a talented player, so I just told him to keep pushing.

Robinson was held just short of 100 yards rushing in his last home game. He ran 25 times for 98 yards. His longest run came in the first quarter on an 18-yard rush up the ISU sideline.

Despite the loss, Robinson feels he and his teammates played with everything they had.

“I don’t think we left anything out there on the field,” Robinson said. “We knew what was at stake and I think everyone went out there and played their hearts out.”

Iowa State was also inhibited by two missed field goals by junior kicker Grant Mahoney.

The Missouri offense totaled 306 total yards and capitalized on two of its three trips to the red zone.

Tight end Michael Egnew put the Tigers on the board for the first time with 1:40 left in the first quarter. Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone for Egnew, who rose up and caught it.

Egnew, who leads the nation in receptions by a tight end, caught seven passes for 77 yards.

Gabbert finished the game with 172 yards passing. He completed 16 of his 26 pass attempts.

Following the Agnew score, Iowa State’s defense kept Missouri off the board until the start of the fourth quarter. Tiger running back De’vion Moore scored from 1 yard out to make the score 14-0 with 14:09 left in the fourth quarter.

The touchdown capped off a 13-play, 80-yard drive.

Iowa State’s defense held Moore to 36 yards on 10 rushes. Missouri spread the ball around, getting the other two running backs at least five carries. 

Gabbert also rushed six times for 40 yards.

“I thought they put together a great plan” Rhoads said of his defensive unit. “We played a front that we hadn’t played all season long. They did that in a week. I thought our defense played outstanding tonight.”

The Cyclones went with a three-man front instead of the traditional four-man front that they had played in previous games. That gave Gabbert some trouble in the passing game and limited the rushing game.

For the 18 seniors that likely finished their ISU careers, it was the end of a roller-coaster type ride over the past four years. Most notably, its was the two coaching changes they endured.

“Were hurt right now,” senior defensive end Rashawn Parker said after the game. “Today just wasn’t our day. The young guys will work hard and they’ll be good next year. Coach Rhoads will get those guys ready.”

Rhoads said there will be an open competition for the starting quarterback position next year with Arnaud’s graduation. Tiller and freshmen James Cappello and Jared Barnett will return to the squad in the fall.

With that, he also hinted at changes.

“You can’t turn the ball over, you can’t make special teams mistakes, you can’t miss field goals,” Rhoads said. “You can’t do those things and win football games. Those are the kind of things we’ll correct and develop. Those are the kind of things that won’t happen in the future.”