For just the second time in the last 12 games in Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State left the home crowd with a smile as the Cyclones rallied from a 13-9 halftime deficit to beat Toledo, 37-30. The win was the second on the year for Iowa State and marked the last of three non-conference games for the season.
This game was an absolute must for a reeling Cyclones outfit that needed any type of positive momentum to salvage a season that was teetering dangerously on the edge of running off the tracks. More importantly, this win kept alive the flickering hopes of a possible bowl game, that could become a reality with a schedule that significantly lightens up in the second half of the season.
In a recurring theme, Iowa State was without a number of starters as Aaron Wimberly, Jarvis West and Drake Ferch all sat out with injuries. In their absences, a host of different Cyclone players stepped up to fill the void and lead Iowa State to victory.
Sam Richardson completed a school record 37 passes while passing for a career high, 351 yards. Richardson also tossed three touchdowns in the win and was turnover-free for the second straight game. The junior signal caller now has 10 touchdown passes on the year to only four interceptions.
Going into the year, Quenton Bundrage, Jarvis West and E.J. Bibbs were thought to be the biggest threats in the passing game, but on Saturday, it was D'Vario Montgomery and Allen Lazard that led the way for the Cyclone passing game.
Montgomery hauled in nine catches for 90 yards and Lazard continued to impress during his debut campaign with eight catches for 96 yards and a score. Bibbs found his way into the end zone as well, breaking a 23-all tie early in the 4th quarter with a 5-yard scoring grab that saw him break multiple tackles en route to the end zone.
Iowa State failed to get into the end zone in the first half despite getting into Toledo territory on multiple drives, but in the second half, the Cyclones went on a 28-10 run prior to the Rockets punching one in with under a minute left. This was the first time on the year that Iowa State cracked the 30-point threshold and also was the first time the Cyclone offense managed to put up 400 yards of offense.
The running game continues to be a work in progress, but with without Wimberly in the line up, DeVondrick Nealy did just enough to keep the Rocket defense honest as he ripped off 71 yards on 16 carries.
Defensively, Iowa State struggled early to get off the field on third down as Toledo converted seven of their first nine third downs, but the Rockets converted just one of their next seven third down attempts. Toledo piled up 425 yards and rushed for 236 yards in defeat.
Iowa State failed to notch a sack, but did rack up seven tackles for loss in the win with Luke Knott leading the way with 2.5.
The Cyclones will now travel to Austin to take on a 2-4 Texas team, fresh off a 31-26 loss to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. That game will kick off at 7 PM on the Longhorn Network, but will air locally on Mediacom and will be available by web cast on Cyclones.TV.