Wallace breaks yardage record, tames Tigers

Zac Reicks

Seneca Wallace showed Heisman voters that he is officially back in the running thanks to a record-setting performance in a 42-35 shootout win over the Missouri Tigers.

Wallace dazzled the 44,339 fans with both his feet and his arm on his way to 493 total yards of offense. The senior signal-caller also broke two school records and led the team on a game-winning 93-yard touchdown drive to help Iowa State become bowl-eligible for the third straight year.

“We knew we could move the ball all game and when it came down to the last drive we had to get some points,” Wallace said. “This win was huge. We captured bowl eligibility for the third straight year and this win gives us momentum for Kansas State.”

Winning was the only thing on Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney’s mind as he watched Wallace rescue his team from a sloppily played game.

“The character we showed late in the game is what this team is all about,” McCarney said. “I don’t know that on any one day there’s been a guy more important to his football team than Seneca was to us today.”

Wallace showed his value to the team by passing for 425 yards and one score as he completed 31 of his 47 attempts. His 31 completions broke his own school record he set last year in a loss to Texas A&M.

Wallace also rushed 10 times for 68 yards and a touchdown, which helped him break the Iowa State total offense record of 449 yards set by Bret Oberg against Oklahoma in 1989. His passing total ranks him second on ISU career charts, behind Todd Bandhauer’s 437 yards against Texas in 1998.

“It feels good to know that I set those records,” Wallace said. “Years from now, I can look back and say that was the day I set those records against Missouri. It’s truly an honor.”

Teammates of Wallace who had the honor of playing with him on Saturday were truly amazed at what they saw.

“Seneca was unbelievable,” wide receiver Lane Danielsen said. “In my opinion, he is the best player in college football right now. I am just glad he is on my team.”

Running back Michael Wagner, who led the Cyclones with 79 yards on 20 carries, scored the game-winning touchdown with 32 seconds remaining. But he knew who really won the game on Saturday.

“I scored the touchdown, but Seneca was the game-breaker,” Wagner said.

The junior running back teamed with freshman Brian Thompson to help spark a running game that had been stagnant the last three weeks. Wagner’s two touchdowns, combined with a score from Thompson, helped take some of the pressure off Wallace and ease the coaches’ minds as well.

“Our backs ran hard and the line did an outstanding job, McCarney said. “Both Wagner and [Thompson] had good games for us.”

One player that had a good game for Missouri was highly touted freshman quarterback Brad Smith. Smith passed for 241 yards and rushed for another 77 as he helped keep the Tigers close all afternoon.

“He was everything we thought and more,” ISU linebacker Chris Whitaker said. “He’s got great balance and as a freshman he is a very, very good quarterback.”

Iowa State totaled 602 yards against a defense that had been allowing 411 yards a game. None of those yards were more important than Wallace’s 33-yard scramble on the game-winning drive.

With Wallace facing third-and-four at the Missouri 46-yard line, it was time for him to make something happen.

“It was a pass and it opened up so wide that I knew I could get the first down and maybe even score,” Wallace said.

While Wallace didn’t score, he put the Cyclones in perfect position to win the game.

“We felt very confident and we knew what the challenge was,” McCarney said. “We just wanted to go down and ice the game with a field goal or touchdown.”

Receivers Lance Young and Danielsen both went over 100 yards on the day and gave Wallace reliable threats that he used all game. Danielsen caught 8 balls for 152 yards while Young added 7 catches for 148 yards and one score.

“I said going into the season that this is the best group of the receivers we have ever had here, and you saw that today,” McCarney said. “Seneca loves throwing to those bunch of guys.”