Iowa State uses three backs to rush over Kansas

Zac Reicks

So far this season it hasn’t been a struggle running the ball for the ISU football team.

The Cyclones went into the season trying to replace two-time Big 12 rushing champion Ennis Haywood, but showed Saturday they may be able to do that in their 45-3 win over Kansas.

Starting tailback Hiawatha Rutland rumbled for 122 yards and one score, while reserves Michael Wagner and redshirt freshman Brian Thompson each had two second half touchdowns.

Thompson added 96 yards on 14 fourth-quarter carries as Rutland ended his day midway through the third quarter.

“I thought all three tailbacks did a good job,” ISU head coach Dan McCarney said. “I have said all along we have three Big 12 backs we can win with . and nothing has changed my mind.”

In Rutland’s first start of the young season, he showed the burst and toughness that had him pegged as the number-one running back through much of fall practice. Running around, through and over would-be tacklers, the junior from Bradenton, Fla., let his success in the Florida State game carry over to the win over the Jayhawks.

“I pride myself in being in good physical condition and I will take as many carries as they need me to take,” Rutland said. “I took what they gave me . and I had success.”

With his effort on Saturday, Rutland has 215 yards on the season and looks to be on his way to keeping Iowa State’s streak of 1,000-yard running backs alive with 11 games still left on the schedule. The Cyclones have had a running back rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of the last seven seasons.

Another bright spot for the Cyclones was Thompson’s play. In only one quarter of action, Thompson almost eclipsed the century mark in rushing yardage as he showed flashes of brilliance in his first collegiate action.

At 5-foot-10 and 207 pounds, Thompson packs an impressive punch and showed excellent speed getting to the outside.

“You saw in Brian Thompson what we see in practice every day,” McCarney said. “He is as good a third-string running back as you will see anywhere. We’ve got to get him more playing time as the season goes on.”

Thompson said he always had confidence in his abilities.

“I had a good idea that if I got in I could make something happen,” Thompson said. “That’s the kind of player I think I am, a big play man.”

Lost in the shuffle of the two impressive performances was Michael Wagner’s 33-yard, two-touchdown day.

Losing his starting job to Rutland after only one game, Wagner has showed the resiliency to contribute to Iowa State’s success in any way that he can.

And if people think he is bitter for losing his No. 1 spot, they couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“We all run together as a team within the team,” Wagner said. “It’s great to see us do good together.”

The same goes for Thompson.

“I am just sitting back waiting my turn,” Thompson said. “I’ve got a lot of time left here and I like to see everyone do well.”