ISU offense shines early, stumbles to finish


Redshirt sophomore wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery runs the ball against West Virginia on Nov. 29 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Mountaineers 37-24. Montgomery had 71 yards. 

Ryan Young

The ISU football team was doing something they hadn’t done in quite some time.

They were completing passes. They were moving down the field. And most importantly, they were winning early in the game.

In the first quarter of Nov. 29 loss against West Virginia, the Cyclones scored 21-straight points and took a commanding lead over the Mountaineers. The offense, one that had struggled to find success in recent weeks, seemed to finally come together.

“We were just clicking as an offense,” said lineman Jake Campos. “Sam [Richardson] was back there and had time to throw, the o-line was picking everything up, and the running backs were hitting seams. Everything was just clicking for us, we were really in the groove.”

West Virginia opened up the game with a touchdown on their first drive, but that didn’t affect Iowa State. The Cyclones responded with back-to-back touchdowns from senior running back Aaron Wimberly and a third from wide receiver Tad Ecby, giving them a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter.

Their offensive success, Campos says, comes from a sort of newfound confidence that the team found over the past few weeks.

“We had a lot of confidence going in,” Campos said. “Our offense, I don’t think, had been as confident the last two weeks as we have been all season. We’ve really been feeling it as an offense. We go out there, and we know we can preform.”

Yet after the Cyclones had a 14-point lead, things just seemed to shut down. They had several drives in a row where they failed to convert a first down, and the Mountaineers took advantage.

West Virginia then scored 20-straight points, giving them the 27-21 lead at halftime.

“We just had a couple of three-and-outs and couldn’t get the ball rolling,” said wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery. “We just weren’t clicking like we were in the first half.”

The second half wasn’t any better for the Cyclone offense either. ISU coach Paul Rhoads said that it wasn’t necessarily a stumbling offense that caused problems, however, but a changed Mountaineer defense.

“They brought some different pressures, for one,” Rhoads said. “We were having trouble getting combinations and knowing where to get the ball and knowing where to throw the ball. Nice job by their defense.”

Iowa State (2-9 overall, 0-8 Big 12) will wrap up their season next weekend against No. 6 TCU. The Horned Frogs, who are still in contention for a playoff spot, will prove to be a challenge for the Cyclones, who are still looking for their first conference win.

Yet Rhoads still says this isn’t a time to panic, but that he still believes in what they’re doing with the program as a whole.

“We’re a young football team, as you know,” Rhoads said. “I’m not going to panic. I’m not going to panic in front of you, I’m not going to panic in front of our football team. I have a great belief in the things that were doing within our program and how it’s operating. We’re not playing good enough football right now, and there are multiple reasons why that’s taking place.”

“We’re going to keep moving forward, and we have one more week with this season to do that.”