Cyclones hope to avoid repeat of ’99

Paul Kix

Sage Rosenfels had a hard time trusting his eyes. “We had them down,” he said. “We played them right down to the wire.”

The 40,057 in attendance at Jack Trice Stadium on Sept. 25 of last year found swallowing difficult as they exited the stadium following the Kansas State game.

After gaining a 21-point first half advantage, Iowa State came away with a loss from the hands of victory, overcome by a second-half surge by K-State to fall 35-28.

Ever the optimist, Iowa State Head Coach Dan McCarney told the Des Moines Register after the game, “I know a lot of football teams that would like to be 3-1 after a month of football.”

4-0 looked as bright and promising as the September sun that beat down on the first-half sod.

Iowa State treated the second-ranked Wildcats defense like the 102nd, racking up 332 yards of total first-half offense to K-State’s 102.

Darren Davis lead the Cyclone attack in the first half with 131 yards and two touchdowns.

Sage Rosenfels added 35 yards rushing on the ground, while throwing for 115 through the air.

Kansas State quarterback Jonathan Beasley was rendered harmless in the first half by a Cyclone defense that played with vigor few Cyclone fans had seen before.

Beasley completed a meager three passes for 24-first half yards. Running back Frank Murphy mustered only 42 yards in the first half.

As the teams trotted to the respective locker rooms, Iowa State led 28-7.

The score could have been more one-sided had it not been for ISU place-kicker Mike McKnight’s 26-yard boot late in the second quarter that hit square in the backs of the offensive linemen protecting him.

Ryan Harklau, who sat out last year’s game due to a foot injury endured during the Iowa contest, believes the Cyclones may have been over-confident going into the second-half, but “we didn’t know how to win yet,” Harklau said.

The Cyclones were not only unable to finish off the Wildcats in the second half, they were unable to compete with them.

Rosenfels was not the same.

He threw for only 41 more yards on the day, finishing with 156 on 11of 24 passing.

Darren Davis also turned an about face.

With older brother Troy in attendance, Davis was held to 21-second half yards, finishing with 152 for the day on 26 carries.

Bill Snyder, Kansas State’s head coach, tired of Beasley’s futile performance, ditched him in place of senior backup Adam Helm.

Helm brought the Wildcats offense to life, leading the charge on three K-State touchdown drives. The last of which, a 62-yard march that gave Kansas State the lead for good with 5:19 still showing on the clock.

Helm was a key to success.

But David Allen may have been the game’s deciding factor.

With a little over ten minutes left in the fourth quarter, Allen fielded a punt from his own six-yard line.

Ninety-four yards later, Kansas State cut the deficit to seven, 28-21. Kansas State now had momentum and maybe even the referees preference.

Ryan Sloth was in position to stop Allen dead in his tracks on the play, but Sloth was nudged from behind by a Wildcat blocker.

And as Cyclones fans screamed “clip,” Allen sprinted into the horizon.

After the game, Allen called it the biggest play of the afternoon.

Dustin Avey, Cyclone free safety, chose his words more carefully. “I’m not an official,” Avey said, “We can’t do anything about it anyway.”