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Classic Games in Cyclone Football History: 2004 Independence Bowl vs. Miami (OH)

The finale for Ellis Hobbs.

Miami of Ohio v Iowa State

Recap is from Chuck Schoffner, an AP Sports Writer.

SHREVEPORT, La. - Iowa State returned to its foundation to finally get the Big 12 a victory in the Independence Bowl.

Stevie Hicks and quarterback Bret Meyer each went for more than 100 yards in a revived running game that carried Iowa State to a 17-13 victory over Miami of Ohio on Tuesday night.

After building its program under coach Dan McCarney around running the ball, Iowa State struggled in that area much of the season. But the Cyclones (7-5) piled up 295 yards on the ground - a school record in a bowl - to spoil Terry Hoeppner’s final game as Miami’s coach.

Hoeppner is leaving to become the coach at Indiana.

”If you look back at the tradition of all the great running backs that have come out of Iowa State ... just to get back to the old ways of what Iowa State rushing used to do, it’s great,” center Luke Vander Sanden said.

Vander Sanden helped spring Hicks for 159 yards on 27 carries, including a 4-yard touchdown run on an option pitch from Meyer, who was named the game’s offensive MVP.

Meyer, a freshman, carried a season-high 23 times for 122 yards and added 114 yards on 10-for-28 passing. His weaving 23-yard run set up the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter and Iowa State held on to end the Big 12’s drought in the Independence Bowl.

Big 12 teams had been 0-6 in this game, including Iowa State’s 14-13 loss to Alabama in 2001.

”I thought the game would be how we matched up with them in the trenches,” Hoeppner said. “They ran the ball better than we expected.”

Just before the game, Miami athletic director Brad Bates told the team that offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery would succeed Hoeppner as coach. If the timing of that announcement was meant to inspire the RedHawks (8-5), it didn’t do so right away. Miami fell behind 10-0 before rallying to a 13-10 lead in the third quarter.

But the Cyclones, who were averaging just 128 yards a game rushing, kept pounding away at the Miami defensive front and finally regained the lead on Ryan Kock’s 1-yard plunge with 13:02 left. On the play before, Meyer took the snap in shotgun formation, ran to his left, cut back to his right, then danced back and forth through the secondary before being brought down just short of the end zone.

“He has a lot of elusivness,” McCarney said. “His running was definitely going to be a big part of our game tonight. Those weren’t plays that broke down. They were designed running plays.”

Ellis Hobbs sealed the victory by stepping in front of receiver Ryan Busing to intercept Josh Betts’ pass in the final minute.

”It was all mental,” Hobbs said. “You (run) it through your head. Right when I saw him, I jumped it and I said to myself, `Don’t drop it.”’

It was the first time in the 29-year history of the Independence Bowl that two players on the same team rushed for more than 100 yards.

”We came in expecting them to run inside the tackles,” Miami safety Matt Pusateri said. “But they got outside on us.”

Betts kept Miami moving at times, but once Iowa State got its running game revved up, the RedHawks couldn’t keep the Cyclones’ offense off the field.

Betts’ 28-yard touchdown pass to Luke Clemens with 25 seconds left in the first half cut the lead to 10-7 and the RedHawks carried that momentum into the first possession of the second half, driving 80 yards in 11 plays to take the lead on Mike Smith’s 2-yard run.

Iowa State helped Miami on both scoring drives with penalties. A personal foul on Tim Dobbins put the RedHawks in position for their first touchdown. On their second drive, they got first downs on two pass interference penalties and a holding penalty when they had been forced to punt.

Betts finished 20-of-44 for 240 yards and the one interception.

Miami’s Michael Larkin caught two passes to extend his NCAA record to 50 straight games with a reception.

”I don’t know of a team that has faced as many distractions as this team, me being a big one,” Hoeppner said. “I pledged to the team that I’d be focused on this game. My heart will always be in Oxford - a big part of it, at least.”

Iowa State bounced back from a 2-10 record in 2003 to share the Big 12 North title and play in a bowl game for the fourth time in five years. The Cyclones won five of their last six games after standing 2-4 in mid-October.

”We’ve come a long way from being an underdog to (Division I-AA) Northern Iowa in our first game,” McCarney said.

Box Score, quotes and notes.

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