Cyclones shutout Panthers

The ISU football team played without starting quarterback Austen Arnaud following the first series of Saturday's game with Northern Iowa but the defense made sure that didn't matter as the Cyclones (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) picked up a 27-0 win and posted their first shutout since blanking the Panthers (1-2) in the 2004 season opener.

Along with not allowing a point, the Iowa State defense also posted two scores of its own on interception returns for touchdowns among the five turnovers it forced.

"We know were young, we know were inexperienced, but we come to work every day," coach Paul Rhoads said. "They were pretty commendable tonight."

Linebacker AJ Klein said the defense just succeeded in the goal it has in every game whether the offense is struggling or not.

"We should be striving to get that zero on the board all the time but we can't dwell on the fact that the pressure is on us," Klein said. "We just have to go play."

Arnaud sustained a similar upper arm injury to the one he had against Kansas State one week ago. On both plays he was thrown down and landed on his elbow.

"He couldn't pick it up and effectively use it," Rhoads said.

Backup Jerome Tiller came in and managed the game effectively, leading his team on three scoring drives.

"He kept us moving and got us down the field," Rhoads said. "He came in and did an admirable job of leading our team to a victory."

Tiller's first series came after Iowa State blocked a 40-yard field goal try by Billy Hallgren and produced points. Alexander Robinson rushed for 36 yards on a drive that led to a 37-yard Grant Mahoney field goal.

After Roosevelt Maggitt forced a fumble on the next UNI series and Klein recovered near midfield, the Cyclones were able to get another field goal from Mahoney, with the second one coming from 46 yards out.

In the second quarter, Josh Lenz sent his team up on the Panther 41 with a 22-yard punt return but the drive stalled out to a fourth down and five at the Panther 24. Mahoney, however, ran for five yards and a first down. Sedrick Johnson then made a big 15-yard catch on third and long to set up an Alexander Robinson touchdown run from six yards away to make the score 13-0.

"The fake field goal was big, but Sedrick's catch on third down was huge," Rhoads said.

Tiller said it was good to get a win but did not play as well as he would have liked to.

"It was a little bit fast in the beginning but later it started to slow down and become more natural," Tiller said. "I know I have several things that I need to improve on in different areas."

The Cyclone defense started its scoring binge on the first series after half when Northern Iowa drove into the Iowa State redzone. Jeremy Reeves picked off Zach Davis and went 94 yards in the opposite direction for a touchdown to make it 20-0.

Klein took his turn for the second straight week later in the third quarter, when he intercepted Tirrell Rennie and took that ball 25 yards to paydirt.

"I have just in the right place in the right time and made the right reads," Klein said.

Northern Iowa drove into the Iowa State redzone twice more but fumbled a ball, which was recovered in the endzone and turned the ball over on downs in the fourth quarter. In fact, Iowa State was a perfect 3 for 3 inside the Panther 20 but UNI was 0 for 4 inside the Cyclone 20.

Iowa State continues a three-game home stand with a key conference game against South Division opponent Texas Tech next Saturday.

Rhoads said he is not sure who will be starting the next game at quarterback and there are multiple factors to the decision.

"We have to look at both health and the way Jerome played," Rhoads said. "You'll know next Saturday when we kick off."


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