Jim Sullivan Aarticle
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Sunday, November 4, 2007 5:25 AM CST
Cyclones unite for Chizik's first Big 12 win
By JIM SULLIVAN, Courier Sports Writer
AMES --- Try as they might to win, Iowa State's Cyclones had fallen short for six long weeks.
Saturday, all of the scattered pieces finally fell into place.
The Cyclones played their best overall game of 2007 at Jack Trice Stadium and upset Kansas State, 31-20, before a wind-chilled crowd of 45,551.
Recently, head coach Gene Chizik insisted that his team was putting things together. Despite competitive performances against Top-25 denizens Oklahoma and Missouri, ISU continued its free fall.
Saturday, it ended. Chizik owned his first Big 12 Conference victory
"I'm so happy for the players and our assistant coaches who have not let anybody or anything bring them down," said Chizik after the Cyclones improved to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in league play. "They tried to stay the course. I can't be prouder of these young guys. I feel like a proud father."
As for the players, they felt relieved and perhaps a little vindicated.
"Finally, we put together a game like we knew we could," said senior quarterback Bret Meyer. "The offense, defense and special teams all worked together, and you see what happens. Obviously, it's been a while since we won. It feels good."
Iowa State hadn't beaten anyone since knocking off Iowa on Sept. 15. To find the last Big 12 win, fade back to the final game of 2006, when the Cyclones edged Missouri to conclude Dan McCarney's tenure as head coach.
Against a Kansas State team that had thumped Texas and Colorado earlier this season, ISU needed contributions from every phase of the game. And the victory fund grew immediately.
On the opening kickoff, the special teams produced a fumble, forced by Josh Raven and recovered by James Smith at the K-State 32. Seven plays later, quarterback Bret Meyer hit fullback Derrick Catlett with a 1-yard touchdown pass, and the Cyclones owned the lead for good with just 3 minutes, 52 seconds torn from the first-quarter clock.
"That was urgent -- we had to get off to a good start," said linebacker Alvin Bowen. "When Coach Chizik went over the keys to the game, that was the first thing he said."
The offense, while not dominant, kept producing points. Meyer threw one relatively meaningless interception, but he did hit 12 of 19 passes, rushed for 41 yards and guided ISU to the end zone twice.
Backup quarterback Austen Arnaud, a foot injury evidently healed, came off the bench and made the most of his most extensive action of the year. He went 5-of-7 through the air for 130 yards, contributing to 10 points in his three series on the field.
"Bret made big plays today, and so did I," said Arnaud. "We just fed off each other.'
The receivers caught whatever the quarterback tandem threw their way.
Todd Blythe grabbed just a pair of passes, but they represented ISU's biggest gainers of the season.
His 40-yarder from Meyer led to Alexander Robinson second TD run of the opening half. Then he hauled in a 51-yarder from Arnaud, a catch that put Bret Culbertson in position to drill a key 25-yard field goal with 8:12 left in the fourth quarter to make it an 11-point game.
Finally, the defense made the plays it had to make. Iowa State never quite stopped K-State wideout Jordy Nelson, who set a school record with 214 yards on 14 catches. But the Wildcats never could catch the Cyclones after they built leads of 14-0 and 21-10 over the opening 30 minutes.
"We just try to work hard and make big plays," said ISU cornerback Chris Singleton. "If we see the offense struggling, we got to pick them up and help them out."
Singleton provided plenty of aid with two second-half picks. The first one became a 21-yard touchdown run when he grabbed a Josh Freeman pass tipped by Bowen. Singleton dashed down the left sideline and scored ISU's second defensive TD in as many weeks. Cornerback Devin McDowell got one at Missouri a week ago.
"I think it was the exact same play and the same way, too," said Singleton of his interception against Kansas State. "Devin scored, so I said, 'Man, I gotta score now.'''
When Iowa State's defense stopped K-State at the brink of the end zone, that may have been the biggest series of the day.
Still clinging to that 31-20 edge, the Cyclones watched the Wildcats march to the ISU 1. On fourth-and-goal, Freeman tried the quarterback sneak. He's a 6-foot-6, 250-pounder.
But he couldn't squirm past Jon Banks and Athyba Rubin. They stopped Freeman for no gain with 4:15 to go.
"That was a game-changer," said Chizik. "That was huge."
Singleton's second interception halted another K-State threat, and soon a victory had fallen into Iowa State's anxious hands.
"Let's be honest," said Chizik. "Not many people gave us a chance -- probably less than 10 percent -- except the guys in the locker room. I feel like we never quit. We fought today and played four quarters. When it came down to the end and making plays, we got it done today."
Contact Jim Sullivan at (319) 291-1434 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman (1) is sacked by Iowa State's Kurtis Taylor, left, and Bryce Braaksma in the second half of Saturday's Cyclone victory.
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Re: Jim Sullivan Aarticle
Seriously I opened this article and thought it was going to be an article about Cyclone Basketball and how Jake Sullivan is doing good these day. Then It started talking about the big K-State win. I was confused as heck. THen I realized it said Jim Sullivan.