Iowa State holds off Northern Iowa 42-24
AMES, Iowa (AP) It wasn’t the smoothest of openers for Iowa State.
But it went down as a relatively comfortable win for the Cyclones – one they won’t look down on after last year’s opening debacle against Northern Iowa.
Jacob Park threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns and Iowa State, aided by a pair of interception returns for TDs, beat the FCS Panthers 42-24 in the season opener for both teams Saturday.
David Montgomery ran for 82 yards and two scores for the Cyclones, who scored 21 straight points to hold off the Panthers just a year after losing to Northern Iowa.
”I thought it was a good team win. Was it perfect? No,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. ”The thing I was most impressed with was that we didn’t panic.”
Willie Harvey (12 yards) and Kamari Cotton-Moya (18 yards) returned Eli Dunne picks for scores in the first quarter. Montgomery then closed the first half with an 8-yard TD run and opened the second with a 3-yard score to make it 28-10.
”Our defense was our offense,” Montgomery said.
The Cyclones essentially put it away midway through the third quarter on a 9-yard TD pass from Park to Marchie Murdock that put them ahead 35-10.
Iowa State’s Allen Lazard caught eight passes for 108 yards to set a new school record for career receptions with 178.
Dunne was 23 of 38 passing for 259 yards with three TDs and three interceptions.
”We were able to get some pressure on the quarterback in some crucial situations. That defensive front – those guys grew up (Saturday),” Campbell said.
Iowa State: The Cyclones got off to a very slow start that those pick-sixes helped mask. But Iowa State started the second half with a nine-play, 65-yard scoring drive, forced a three-and-out and then added another nine-play touchdown drive. Ultimately, the Cyclones were able to overwhelm the FCS Panthers because of their wealth of skill position options. Whether they’ll be able to do that against Iowa – which held Wyoming and its star quarterback, Josh Allen, to three points earlier Saturday – will be a major question mark heading into next week.
Northern Iowa: Erase the two pick-sixes, and the Panthers just might have made a game of it. But teams that give away points typically give away games, as UNI found out. The Panthers will look to push past this loss and focus on getting back to the FCS playoff after winning just five games in 2016.
Mike Warren split duties with Montgomery, finishing with 33 yards on 12 carries. Warren also had 58 yards as Iowa State’s kick returner. …Trevor Allen ran for 87 yards for the Panthers. …Northern Iowa was just 3 of 11 on third down, while Iowa State was 7 of 15. …Hakeem Butler caught seven passes for 75 yards.
Park entered the first game of 2017 with a full offseason under his belt, a luxury he didn’t have a year ago. For the most part Park played like a veteran quarterback – except for a terrible throw late in the first half that was picked off. Northern Iowa moved into field goal position but missed the kick, absolving Park of his miscue. Park completed a career-high 27 passes.
LANNING’s LEARNING CURVE
Former starting quarterback Joel Lanning made his debut at linebacker Saturday. He made seven total tackles and was credited with a quarterback hurry on Harvey’s interception in the first quarter. Lanning also made an appearance at quarterback in the fourth quarter, converting a 4th-and-1 deep inside UNI territory and later ran for a TD that was called back because of a holding penalty.
Iowa State hosts rival Iowa on Sept. 9.
Northern Iowa will open its home schedule against Cal Poly on Saturday.
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