Back to Earth

Luke Plansky

Up 11 points with 5:25 left in the game, a special teams nightmare unfolded on the artificial turf of the Glass Bowl in Ohio, costing the ISU football team its second win of the season.

After J.J. Bass plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down, the Cyclones (1-3 overall) took a commanding 35-24 lead that disappeared all too quickly.

On the ensuing kickoff, Toledo running back Jalen Parmele ran 82 yards through multiple ISU tackles for a touchdown to make it 35-30 after a missed two-point conversion. Iowa State went three-and-out on its next possession, and was forced to punt from its own 32-yard line with 3:32 remaining.

The snap on the punt was low, and the ball rolled past punter Mike Brandtner into the end zone, eventually ending up in the arms of the Rockets’ Greg Hay for the go-ahead touchdown. Toledo (1-3) went for a two-point conversion to make it a three-point game, but was unsuccessful.

Toledo was forced to kick off from its own 20 rather then the 35 because of a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Toledo during the botched punt. The penalty helped allow Cyclone returner Drenard Williams set up Iowa State with great field position on the ISU 48-yard line after the kickoff. The Cyclones took over with 3:16 on the clock, and quarterback Bret Meyer drove Iowa State to the 21-yard line to set up a potential game-winning field goal. With just over 10 seconds left, Bret Culbertson lined up to be the hero for the second straight week, but his kick from 38 yards was blocked by Hay.

It was a golden opportunity for a necessary win, but instead, coach Gene Chizik saw his first road game end in excruciating fashion.

“It was a comedy of errors on special teams all the way through,” said Chizik in a press release to the AP. “It starts with us as coaches. We have got to get that fixed quickly.”

ISU players and coaches were unable to be reached before press time.

Bass finished with 34 carries for 134 yards (3.9 avg. per carry) and scored two touchdowns. Meyer was 24-of-33 for 251 yards and three touchdowns, including a 26-yard score to Todd Blythe early in the third quarter to give Iowa State a 21-17 lead – its first of the game.

Toledo’s Aaron Opelt threw a 42-yard touchdown pass three possessions later to take back the lead.

Meyer then completed a 10-play, 76-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass off the fingertips of tight end Ben Barkema into the hands of tight end Derrick Catlett with 2:27 left in the third.

Iowa State out-gained Toledo 397-297 on offense and converted on 10-of-19 third downs. Conversely, the defense held the Rockets to 4-of-12 on third-down plays.

The Cyclones will be on the road again next Saturday, facing No. 25 Nebraska (3-1) at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The game will not be televised.