Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Rocco Becht (3) reacts after drawing an offside penalty on the Cincinnati Bearcats defense in the fourth quarter during a college football game between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Cincinnati Bearcats Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, at Nippert Stadium win Cincinnati. The Iowa State Cyclones won, 30-10. © Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
With a name like Stevo Klotz, you’d better be a good blocking tight end.
The 6-4, 260-pound Iowa State junior from Chaska, Minn., does indeed check all the boxes in that area, but Saturday he cradled his first career touchdown catch at Cincinnati, helping the surging Cyclones record a rousing 30-10 win over the reeling Bearcats at Nippert Stadium.
“I’m just tossing that up one-on-one with Stevo,” ISU redshirt freshman quarterback Rocco Becht said on the Cyclone Radio Network after the game. “Stevo did all the work there, so I’m gonna go give him a pat on the back after this, but Steve’s a dawg.”
Klotz’s 13-yard scoring grab emphatically sealed the winning outcome for the Cyclones (4-3, 3-1 Big 12), who scored 27 of the final 30 points and played turnover-free football for the second consecutive game. Fellow Cyclone tight end Benjamin Brahmer caught Becht’s first touchdown pass and Becht also scored on a two-yard plunge as ISU spoiled Cincinnati’s Homecoming game that played out before 38,193 rain-soaked fans.
“I really feel like our coaches and our senior leaders have demanded the standard of excellence in our program, and they’ve held people accountable (to that) while not really (being) worried about the results,” Cyclone head coach Matt Campbell said after notching his 50th since taking over the program in 2016. “And when you do that, the results start to come and I’m really proud of what our kids are about.”
ISU outclassed the favored Bearcats (2-4, 0-3) in all three phases of the game and beat a conference opponent on the road for the first time since topping Kansas State, 33-20, on Oct. 16, 2021 in Manhattan.
Becht completed 15 of 25 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. ISU defensive backs T.J. Tampa and Jeremiah Cooper both grabbed interceptions. Placekicker Chase Contreraz went 3-for-3 on field goals and also ran six yards on a fake field goal to convert a fourth down play that led to the Cyclones’ first touchdown. Cyclone junior receiver Jayden Higgins caught six passes for 172 yards — including a 75-yarder from Becht that set up ISU’s second touchdown.
“They were just playing a lot of man (coverage),” Higgins said. “We saw it all week and the coaches just schemed it up, Rocco was throwing good passes and I was just able to make (plays) on the ball.”
ISU outgained Cincinnati 364 yards to 214 yards overall while crafting a 123-to-117 yard edge on the ground. The Bearcats entered Saturday’s game averaging 490 yards of total offense and 220 rushing yards per game, but couldn’t get much traction against a Cyclone defense that has produced five takeaways in the past two games.
Cooper’s nation-leading fifth interception came on a Hail Mary pass before halftime and ISU entered Saturday’s game tied for third nationally with 10 picks.
“We’re really just setting each other up for big plays on the field,” Cooper said.
So is receiver/return man Jaylin Noel, whose two kickoff returns for 110 yards preceded scoring drives, as well.
“What I think our kids did (was) great execution of the plan,” Campbell said. “From the fake to the kick returns, I think those were the absolute difference in the game.”