Backlash: Aggies blitz Cyclones, 30-7

Jeff Stell

The spotlight was on Iowa State in Saturday’s contest with Texas A&M at Jack Trice Stadium, but it was the Aggies who stole the show.

Scouts from several bowl games and a nationally-televised audience watched the Aggies dominate the game in every phase to cruise to a 30-7 victory. The victory improves the Aggies to 5-2 while the Cyclones fall to 5-2.

The story of the game was the Aggie defense which shut down the high-powered Cyclone offensive attack. The Cyclones entered the game, averaging 446.5 yards of total offense but managed only 239 Saturday and didn’t score until the final minutes when reserves were in the game.

The ISU rushing game floundered, as Ennis Haywood rushed for just 75 yards on 14 carries while quarterback Sage Rosenfels struggled to a 14-of-32 passing performance for 84 yards.

“Obviously we were just outclassed today by a real good A&M football team,” said ISU Head Football Coach Dan McCarney. “Offensively, we didn’t make any plays to sustain anything, and we didn’t establish a running game. A&M controlled the line of scrimmage, and I have to really credit their defense. They’re athletic, have good speed and don’t stay blocked for long.”

The Aggies took control of the game early, building a 20-0 halftime lead. In the first half, the Aggies racked up 10 first downs and 255 total offense yards, but it was a pair of Cyclone errors early in the first quarter that gave the Aggies a quick start.

On Iowa State’s opening drive, Rosenfels overthrew a wide open Craig Campbell, missing a sure chance for an early lead. The Cyclones were forced to punt, which was blocked by Aggie cornerback Jay Thomas, and Aggie quarterback Mark Farris scored two plays later on a quarterback draw.

“I was really pleased with the way we came out and played with emotion right from the start,” said Texas A&M Head Football Coach R.C. Slocum.

“I think it is really important to take the crowd out of the game as soon as possible and we did that with the blocked punt. Getting off to a good start was a focus of ours all week and then, after the blocked punt, it was good to see the offense finish.”

While the Aggie defense was top notch, the offense was powered by a balance. The Aggies rushed for 221 yards, and Farris totaled 248 through the air with a pair of touchdown passes.

Farris agreed that the blocked punt provided a big spark for the Aggie offense, and at the same time deflated the Cyclone defense.

“The blocked punt was huge,” Ferris said. “I could see a night and day difference in their defense from the first series to the second. When you are able to get a big play like that early, it can really take the air out of a team.”

Joe Weber led the Aggies with 106 rushing yards, on an average of over five yards a carry. Robert Ferguson had four catches for 83 yards while Goynes had a pair of receptions for 79 yards.

The Aggies receiving corps repeatedly beat the ISU secondary for big plays.

“Pure speed – they’re athletic and have outstanding speed,” McCarney said. “That’s a great group of receivers. They can get behind about any secondary in the country, and the quarterback is really special.”

“We didn’t get much pressure on the quarterback all day, and if you do that with those receivers and a confident quarterback, you’re going to have a long day.”

In the second half, the Cyclones slowed down the Aggie offense and only gave up 10 points, but the offense couldn’t get anything going. Marc Timmons, Derrick Walker and Reggie Hayward each tallied 10 tackles for the Cyclones.

“We were ready to play, but we weren’t focused enough, and we have to go back to square one,” said ISU cornerback Jamarcus Powers. “I think that we just didn’t communicate very well from the start of the game. We did in the second half, but by that time they had already built a sizable lead on us.”

Bowl scouts from the Independence, Alamo, Fiesta and Holiday Bowls were in attendance to watch the Cyclone team that started the year strong at 5-1.

The Cyclones will have a chance to bounce back Saturday hosting Missouri. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.