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Holy Toledo: Iowa State crashes
By JIM SULLIVAN, Courier Sports Writer
TOLEDO, Ohio -- The Glass Bowl dates back to the Great Depression.
And Iowa State left the 70-year-old stadium with empty pockets Saturday.
A series of special teams crashes bankrupted the Cyclones here, as they blew an 11-point lead and fell to Toledo, 36-35.
"They're hurt," said head coach Gene Chizik of his players. "We just lost."
For a time, Chizik seemed on his way to history. Just five minutes stood between Dan McCarney's successor and becoming the first Iowa State head coach to win his initial road game since Johnny Majors did it against Brigham Young in 1968.
Something had to give. Iowa State came to the Glass Bowl averaging just 14 points per game offensively. Toledo, by contrast, had given up 49.7 per outing on defense while losing its first three games.
In the final half, the answer turned out to be -- special teams for the Cyclones (1-3).
"It was a comedy of errors with special teams tonight all the way through," said Chizik. "It starts with us. The coaches have to get it fixed."
Chizik added, "It was a special teams meltdown in my opinion."
With 11 seconds to go Bret Culbertson missed a 38-yard field goal try, capping off a desperate drive by Iowa State. So he couldn't duplicate his heroics of a week ago, when his 3-pointer with :01 to play beat Iowa.
"What happens, happens," said the senior placekicker. "We still have to deliver. I was hoping to get a chance."
But two earlier disasters had put Culbertson -- and the Cyclones -- in a tough spot.
Just after J.J. Bass scored on a 1-yard run to give ISU a 35-24 lead, Jalen Parmele weaved through four tack and scored on an 82-yard kickoff return. The try for two points failed, but it was a 5-point game with 5:08 to go.
"That changed the whole game right there," said Chizik. "We missed him at least three or four times."
Forced to punt on the next series, the Cyclones special teams hit bottom.
Matt Purvis' low center snap skipped past Michael Brandtner and headed toward the Cyclone end zone. Brandtner couldn't find the football, but Toledo linebacker Greg Hay did. He fell on the ball in the left corner of the end zone, and the Rockets owned an improbable 36-35 lead with 3:22 to play.
That's when Iowa State marched downfield for one more stab at score to conclude a wild final half. Culbertson's low boot skittered wide left.
Game Rockets. Great Depression, Cyclones.
"It was horrible," said wide receiver R.J. Sumrall. "It was the same as our first two (losses). Nobody likes to lose."
Added Chizik, "We knew it was going to be a back and forth game. It was going about as we planned -- until the last five minutes."
But it was a wild ride to the finish.
Tied at 14 after one half of back-and-forth football, ISU and Toledo continued to battle at close quarters. The Rockets took a 17-14 lead on an Alex Steigerwald field goal, but the Cyclones countered quickly.
Quarterback Bret Meyer hit Todd Blythe for a 25-yard touchdown pass, putting ISU on top by a 21-17 margin. That TD marked the first time Iowa State had reached the 20-point mark this season.
ISU's edge didn't have much of a shelf life. Oplet hit Stephen Williams with a pretty, 42-yard throwback screen pass as the Rockets jumped back ahead, at 24-21, with 6:19 to go in the third period.
Back came ISU on the next series. This drive featured 10 plays, a pair of booth reviews - both upheld in the Cyclones' favor - and a strange TD pass. Meyer, under pressure, lobbed the ball to the right corner of the end zone. It slipped through Ben Barkema's hands, but fullback Derrick Catlett grabbed the pass before toppling out of bounds. After the press box review, ISU had its second TD of the quarter and another lead.
The Cyclones widened the gap following a big defensive play by Steve Johnson. He stopped Toledo Brent Kern short of first-down yardage on a fake punt at the Rocket 39. Bass scored on fourth down with 5:25 to go, and the Cyclones seemed to be getting comfortable.
It wasn't to be.
"We were confident," said Meyer. "But it's all about finishing. One of the things they preach to us is don't look at the scoreboard, don't let emotions change when down however many or when you're up. We just got to be able to focus in all three aspects.".
The opening 30 minutes didn't lack action - or mistakes. Iowa State turned the ball over twice - on a fumble and an interception - while Toledo had one pass picked.
Still, the two teams left the field deadlocked. Bass ran 10 yards for Iowa State's initial TD and Meyer connected with Wallace Franklin on a 5-yarder, Franklin's first score as a Cyclone.
BRAND NEW DEJA VU: For the first time this year, ISU had a quartet of plays reviewed by the press box. They happened on consecutive snaps in the second half. The first was a Bass run on third-and-1 at the Toledo 4, where officials ruled that Bass spun away from a tackler without hitting the ground. Then came the Meyer to Catlett touchdown pass. After that, the booth looked at a fourth-quarter Bass run to the goal line. The first two calls went ISU's way; Bass was ruled short of the end zone on the third, although he scored on the next snap. That play was reviewed and upheld
MORE NOTES: Meyer made his 40th career start Saturday. He leads all active Division I quarterbacks in that department. Next on the list is Alex Brink of Washington State with 32. ... Meyer threw three TDs in a game for the first time since the 2005 Houston Bowl.
Contact Jim Sullivan at (319) 291-1434 or email@example.com
Re: Holy Toledo
Re: Holy Toledo
Thanks for posting the entire article from Sullivan in the Courier! Our esteemed sports editor, Don Doxsie at the QC Times in eastern Iowa, aka The Hawkeye Times, decided to cut parts of Sullivan's article. It was the only coverage given to the Cyclones, since the room was needed to praise the Hawkeyes. The paper had plenty of excuses for the Hawks loss to Wisconsin of course. "Banged-up Iowa nearly knocks off Badgers." and "Injury bug bites Hawkeyes in loss." Don Doxsie even had a big article about Ferentz shutting up his Freshmen. More of the same old, same old stuff!
Re: Holy Toledo
Usually the Times does a pretty good job in Cyclone coverage compared to the rest of the papers in the state. But after that 5 minute debacle Saturday night, did you really want to see coverage of it in the Sunday paper? I was kind of relieved it wasn't there.
Originally Posted by Big12Fan