AMES — Each connection rekindled fond, but fleeting memories for Iowa State wide receiver D’Vario Montgomery.
Five times in the first half, the former Winter Park (Fla.) standout caught a pass from his quarterback — then and now — Sam Richardson.
The duo connected four more times in the second half of Saturday’s 37-30 Cyclone win over Toledo, helping to form a record-setting day for Richardson, a junior, and a breakout game for Montgomery, a sophomore transfer from South Florida.
“I can honestly say that was one thing that stuck out to me a lot,” said Montgomery, who set single-game career-bests in receptions (9) and receiving yardage (90). “The chemistry between me and him has not gone anywhere. It felt great today.”
Richardson broke ISU’s single-game completions mark with 37. Austen Arnaud and Steele Jantz shared the old record at 36 each.
Richardson hit Montgomery — who entered the game with three catches for 40 yards — the most, but also found Allen Lazard eight times, Dondre Daley six times and E.J. Bibbs five times. Nine Cyclones made at least one catch while Richardson amassed a career-high 351 yards through the air.
“That guy right there looks good, huh?” Bibbs said of Richardson. “He was great out there. He felt comfortable. He was relaxed.”
That’s how Montgomery felt, too.
He caught four passes on a second-quarter drive for a field goal, including a 20-yarder.
He also said the best is yet to come — for him, and the offense.
“Somewhat of a start for me,” said Montgomery, a 6-5, 219-pound former four-star recruit. “Somewhere where I can at least build more and more off of. It was a confidence builder.”
INJURY UPDATE: Rhoads said tailback Aaron Wimberly didn’t play because of lingering pain associated with a sprained ankle sustained in last week’s loss at Oklahoma State. Receiver Jarvis West (ankle) and linebacker Drake Ferch also sat out Saturday’s win. “We got them out there and just weren’t strong enough to go and in our opinion we risked hurting them more,” Rhoads said. “I anticipate having all three of them back for Texas.”
BRACKENS BUSTS LOOSE: SAM linebacker Jared Brackens started in Ferch’s place and blew up a return on special teams while tying Kamari Cotton-Moya for a team-high 12 tackles.
ONE-HAND ALLEN: Lazard rose up for a one-handed reception that spanned 14 yards on ISU’s first touchdown drive early in the third quarter. The play, which occurred along the sideline, came on 2nd and 12. Five plays later Richardson hit Tad Ecby for a 23-yard touchdown. “Sam through it kind of high,” said Lazard, whose eight catches for 96 yards constituted a career high. “Just jumped up hoping I could make a play out of it and ended up making a play.”
BIBBS’ TOUGH TD, TAKE TWO: Rhoads joked that the piece of gold jersey defenders tore off Bibbs as he scored a five-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter made him think a flag had been thrown. Richardson, at first glance, feared the same thing had happened. “I was freaking out,” Richardson said. “I was about wanting to cuss (freshman receiver) Jauan (Wesley) out, thinking he got a flag there. But no, it was an amazing play by an amazing player. I think a few times today D’vario was catching the ball and carrying two to three guys on him. That’s something I’ve seen throughout his entire career and to see Bibbs do that — he’s a big guy. it takes a lot to get him down.”
NEW RECEIVER?: Richardson’s throw-away attempt to avoid a sack on third and goal in the first quarter hit the hands of guard Daniel Burton, who grasped the football and took of running. It was, of course, illegal touching — and afterwards both quarterback and unlikely receiver could laugh it off. Cole Netten kicked a field goal moments later to put ISU up 6-3. “I was laughing when it happened,” Richardson said. “Not the smartest play by either of us. Try to avoid that the rest of the season.” Burton’s take? "Right there in my lap and held on,” the 6-6, 328-pound sophomore said. “I was like, ‘OK, turn around and start running that way, maybe?’ I was thinking about trying to pitch it to the running back there. He’s a little faster than I am.”
“TOUGH RUNS”:DeVondrick Nealy didn’t have much room to run Saturday, but he did carve out a career-high 71 yards on 16 carries, with several of those gains coming with second efforts. “To be in there running tough and everybody else saw it — the sideline saw it and the coaches saw it, it was a great feeling for me to know that I can move the pile forward,” Nealy said. Rhoads likes that tenacity, but noted the running game’s still not nearly as productive as it needs to be. “I thought we had a number of tough runs today and guys finding extra yardage through sheer effort,” he added.
COOL COLE: Netten improved to 7-for-7 on field goals this season with three first half three-pointers. He’s drilled his last 10 field goal tries, dating back to last season. “Definitely more mature and I’ve capitalized on all the chances I’ve been able to get,” Netten said. “That’s confidence right there.”