Yelk takes blame

Jeremy Gustafson

Shreveport, La., The flight home from Shreveport, La. will be a little

bit longer for

Tony Yelk. The Cyclones’ punter and field goal kicker will take the

14-13 loss to Alabama in the Mainstay Independence Bowl a little

bit harder than the rest of the team.

It was his missed 47-yard field goal with :46 seconds left on the

clock that allowed the Crimson Tide to run down the final seconds

and storm the field in victory as a crowd of 45,627 looked on.

“When the offense kind of stumbles like that,” Yelk said, “I got to do

my part. It’s just frustrating to sit here and talk to you guys knowing

I didn’t get it done.”

Yelk’s kick, which replays show may have been good after all, was

set up after a blocked punt and touchdown by Alabama which put

the Crimson Tide up one point with 4:44 left to play.

It was two missed field goals earlier in the game, one a 25-yarder

before the end of the first half and the other, a 40-yard attempt, with

over 10 minutes left in the final quarter that made the last kick so


“Obviously it wasn’t a stellar kicking performance,” said Yelk who

finished the game two out of five. “We were fortunate to make the


Despite his struggles in the game and throughout the season,

which saw Yelk finish eight-of-18 with four kicks blocked, ISU head

coach Dan McCarney had no doubt when it came to sending his

kicker on the field with the game on the line.

“Tony’s got a real strong leg,” McCarney explained. “I’ve really got a

lot of faith in him. There isn’t any one coach or one player that lost

that game. We share in wins and we share in losses.”

Yelk, too, was confident despite missing two kicks earlier.

“One of my high school coaches once told me that `You’re only as

good as your next kick,'” Yelk said. “That’s the way you have to

approach it.”

But was the kick good? The referees said no and Yelk quickly put

down any controversy that may have surrounded the call.

“We can probably talk about it all we want, as far as the

controversial part of it,” Yelk said. “Bottom line is – it was no good.

It’s unfortunate I couldn’t pull through and help this team.”

Making it ever harder to swallow is the fact that the Cyclones

dominated Alabama on offense and defense, but couldn’t put the

ball in the end zone.

Iowa State had 456 total yards, while holding the Crimson Tide to


“Sometimes that’s how it goes,” said linebacker Matt Word who

was named co-defensive player of the game. “You got to swallow

it and go on. Life goes on.”

ISU quarterback Seneca Wallace was quick to jump to the aid of

Yelk. Wallace was named offensive player of the game after

completing an ISU bowl record 25 passes for 284 yards. The

junior had consoling words for Yelk as the game came to an end.

“I just told him to keep his head up,” Wallace said. “Everybody

makes mistakes, nobody is perfect.”

Still the game had to seem eerily reminiscent of the Cyclones’ 24-

21 loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 27. Iowa State racked up 445 yards,

including 348 through the air by Wallace and held a highly touted

Aggie passing game to 132 yards.

It was a 0-for-four day by Yelk that cost the Cyclones a chance at a


“It felt like dŠj… vu,” Word said. “It feels like you won, but the

scoreboard says something different.”

Sophomore Lane Danielsen will also feel the sting of this game

through the offseason. He agreed that it felt a lot like the Texas A&

M game and felt like the Cyclones were the better team.

“I don’t feel we can be disappointed with what we did,” he said.

“We just didn’t get the ball into the endzone when we had to.”

And when the Cyclones didn’t get a touchdown, it was up to Yelk,

who did make two field goals, including tying an ISU bowl record

with a 41-yarder, but missed the biggest. Yelk took the blame,

showing maturity beyond that of a redshirt freshman.

“The snap and the holds were fantastic,” Yelk explained. “I think a

lot of it is just between my ears. I really don’t feel my technique is

terrible. I miss-hit a couple of them, but I just think a lot of it is the

focus and the mind-set.”

Despite Yelk being hard on himself, his coach and teammates

made sure he knew that he wasn’t to blame.

“Tony Yelk is one of the best punter/kickers in the country,”

McCarney said. “I’ve got a lot of faith in him and I love him. Thank

God he’s at Iowa State.”

Wallace backed up McCarney, saying Iowa State wins and loses

as a team.

It seems the harshest words for the distraught kicker are his own

as the rest of the team took equal shares of the blame.

“We were just one play away,” said senior running back Ennis

Haywood. “We’ve just gotta deal with it. That’s life.”