A. P. Version for the record
Sanders accounts for 3 TDS as UNI beats Iowa State
Updated: 12:56 a.m. CT Sept 9, 2007
AMES, Iowa - Eric Sanders passed for two touchdowns and ran for another and Northern Iowa kept Iowa State winless under new coach Gene Chizik with a 24-13 victory Saturday night.
Northern Iowa (2-0), a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, looked much stronger and sharper than its Big 12 opponent, which coughed up four turnovers and rarely established any consistency on offense.
And while the outcome won't rock the nation in the manner of Appalachian State's upset of Michigan, it was still satisfying for the Panthers, who ended a five-game losing streak to Iowa State (0-2) in front of the largest crowd ever at ISU, 56,795.
Chizik was the defensive coordinator on undefeated teams at Texas and Auburn, but he's now finding how the other half lives as the Cyclones struggle to adjust to his system.
His defense had no answer for Sanders, who found openings in ISU's secondary all night while completing 23 of 29 passes for 180 yards and no interceptions. He had touchdown throws of 10 yards to Johnny Gray and 5 yards to Victor Williams and scored on an 8-yard run.
Corey Lewis helped keep the Panthers moving with 130 yards rushing in 19 carries.
Northern Iowa capitalized on an interception and fumble in building a 17-6 halftime lead, then made it 24-6 when Sanders sprinted around left end behind Gray's block to score midway through the fourth quarter.
Iowa State, which rallied from a 21-7 deficit to beat Northern Iowa 28-27 last year, pulled to 24-13 on J.J. Bass' 1-yard TD run with 7:24 left. But the Cyclones never got past the Northern Iowa 30 after that and their final possession ended in an interception.
Bret Meyer, Iowa State's career passing leader, finished 27 of 43 for 255 yards with two interceptions and scored a touchdown. He was replaced for one series in the third quarter by redshirt freshman Austen Arnaud, then returned to finish the game.
Meyer drove the Cyclones to the Northern Iowa 30 on the game's first series, then threw an ill-advised pass. He sidearmed the ball under pressure and Brannon Carter picked it off, returning it to the ISU 43.
The Cyclones held and Northern Iowa settled for a 3-0 lead on Billy Hallgren's 31-yard field goal.
Iowa State answered with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that Meyer finished with a 1-yard TD run, thanks in part to a timely shove from 231-pound fullback Brian Ekwelundu. The Cyclones then forced a three-and-out but gave the ball right back when Zac Sandvig had the ball jarred loose after fielding a punt.
Northern Iowa's Curtis Meier recovered at the ISU 15. Three plays later, Sanders scrambled to his left to avoid the rush and hit Gray in the end zone from 5 yards out. It was 10-6 Panthers and they had only 52 yards of offense.
They soon had quite a few more.
Taking over at their own 31 after ISU's Bret Culbertson missed a 49-yard field goal attempt, Sanders kept picking away at the defense with short passes and took the Panthers on an 18-play, 69-yard touchdown drive that lasted more than 8 1/2 minutes.
Sanders converted four times on third down _ three completions and a run _ before facing fourth-and-2 at the ISU 5. Coach Mark Farley called timeout to think it over, then passed on the field goal attempt and Sanders came through with a touchdown strike to Williams, who beat Chris Singleton on a slant pattern for a 17-6 lead.
Looking forward to CFH magic for the next bball season, Georges style.