AMES — Five plays. 80 yards. All runs — and a touchdown — which provided one of many bright spots Saturday that would eventually be overshadowed by the dark cloud cast by a 34-31 loss to Texas Tech
That run-only drive allowed Iowa State to take a 24-14 lead on the Red Raiders. The Cyclones racked up their most rushing yards (265) in a game since piling up 368 in an Oct. 29, 2011 road win in Lubbock
And it felt good, even though it couldn’t prevent another setback before an announced crowd of 50,877 at Jack Trice Stadium.
"That was cool," said center Tom Farniok, who led the way on most of those runs. "That’s what football’s supposed to feel like."
The Cyclones (2-8, 0-7) gained 226 of those 265 yards after the first quarter. Aaron Wimberly went over the 100-yard mark for the second time this season. DeVondrick Nealy added a career-high 87 yards on just seven carries. Nealy went for 49 yards to kick off the run-only touchdown drive that seemed to give ISU all the momentum.
"When I got to the line of scrimmage I knew it was going to be a big play," Nealy said. I looked at the defense and I was lie, ‘OK, I’m pretty excited about this run.’ So when I got it and saw the open field I was like, ‘Oh yeah. that’s pretty good.’ Just a block away and it could have been an even bigger touch.”
Wimberly, a senior, hopes its a sign of things to come. Senior day looms next weekend when West Virginia comes to Ames. Then, ISU could play spoiler for TCU’s playoff hopes the following week in Fort Worth.
"Just to be able to break off those runs felt good," Wimberly said.
ISU entered the game ranked last in the Big 12 in rushing at 111.7 yards per game.
PICK (PREVENTS) SIX: Somewhat lost in the shuffle Saturday was ISU cornerback Nigel Tribune‘s interception in the end zone that stopped Tech from taking a 21-14 lead with less than five minutes left in the first half. Rhoads didn’t forget, though. "He’s a guy that’s fighting through it," Rhoads said of the sophomore’s growth. "And a couple weeks ago you might have kicked dirt on him and today he makes a huge play with his back against our goal line to move us forward."
BIBBS BANGED UP AGAIN: Tight end E.J. Bibbs caught his eighth touchdown pass, which puts him one from tying the single-season record owned by teammate Quenton Bundrage and former great Todd Blythe. He also took several hard hits, however, and had to sit out several series. Rhoads was asked about his health. His response? "Mentally or physically?" Rhoads said of Bibbs, a Mackey Award semifinalist. "He’s sitting in the locker room with his head in his hands. Physically, I think he’s probably in a lot of pain. But he came back time and time again and made some tremedous catches out there."
TAD’S TIME? Rhoads said he and his staff "challenged" reciever Tad Ecby early in the last bye week. Ecby responded with two catches for 100 yards — his first time hitting the century mark. So, message received? "I will continue to have higher energy at practice and try to do everyting I can to be victorius in the next two games,” said Ecby, who is averaging 35.8 yards per catch this season.