Cyclones in good hands

Zac Reicks

ATHENS, Ohio – As the old adage goes, when the game is on the line you put the ball in the hands of your best player.

The ISU football team did just that on Saturday as Ennis Haywood put the team on his back and carried the Cyclones to a 31-28 win over Ohio in front of a Peden Stadium record crowd of 24,000.

Haywood finished the game with 33 carries for 219 yards and two touchdowns while leading the Cyclones in rushing yardage for the second straight game.

With Iowa State clinging to a slim three-point lead, the offense got the ball back with five minutes 25 seconds left in the game needing to run time off the clock to ensure that Ohio’s offense would not get a chance to complete their fourth-quarter comeback.

Haywood responded with a determined effort as the coaching staff called his number eight straight times.

Haywood didn’t stop until there were zeroes across the board.

“We were determined to drive the ball down the field,” Haywood said. “The offensive line and I just looked in each others eyes, and we knew we could not let each other down.”

The biggest play in the drive came on fourth-and-four. As the Ohio defense stuffed the play at the line, Haywood was still able to bounce outside, pick up the first down and effectively end the game.

“It was a zone play that I bounced outside and just cut up the field,” Haywood said.

While Haywood’s teammates definitely enjoyed his big day, head coach Dan McCarney relished his exploits as well.

“Ennis showed why he is the best back in the country,” McCarney said. “We challenged Ennis and the [offensive] line to run clock, and Ennis came up with a great play on fourth down.”

Haywood put himself in the Cyclone record books with his 200-yard performance.

He became the third ISU back to have a trio of 200-yard games.

Heisman Trophy runner-up Troy Davis had nine such performances from 1995 to 1996. His brother Darren ran for more than 200 yards five times from 1995 to 1997.

Great backs are known for their ability to get stronger as the game goes on, and Haywood is no different.

As the mammoth ISU line continued to wear down an undersized Ohio front four, the 5-foot 11-inch, 220-pound Haywood punished would-be tacklers at every chance.

As a back that enjoys contact, there were many times when the Cyclone senior turned it upfield for the extra yard instead of going out of bounds.

“You have to get stronger in the fourth quarter,” Haywood said.

“It’s just another way that we’re showing our team can pull out close games on the road.”

The win on Saturday was the first time since 1980 that they have won five games in a row.

“It feels good to do something that hasn’t been done in a long time,” Haywood said.