AMES, Iowa — Paul Rhoads preached that Saturday’s season opener could set the tone for an entire season. Now, he’s hoping it doesn’t.
A season removed from offensive inconsistency, this one is supposed to be different. It was early, when the Cyclones — after going 0-for-12 in scoring on opening drives a season ago — capped an 10-play opening drive with a touchdown. The defense, while inexperienced, looked promising through the season’s first quarter.
How quickly that tone changed.
“Started fast, which was exciting to see. I anticipated them starting fast like that,” Rhoads said. “Then, the toll of that type of offense began to take an effect on us.”
Leading by two touchdowns with the help of Aaron Wimberly’s 16-yard scamper into the end zone to start the game and with Allen Lazard’s 48-yard reception that led to a three-yard touchdown run by Wimberly, the script was flipped within 17 seconds.
NDSU running back John Crockett went untouched in scoring an 80-yard touchdown on the first play that followed Wimberly’s second touchdown. Crockett’s score sent the Bison on a run of 34 unanswered points en route to sending Iowa State to a season-opening 34-14 loss.
“It was a pivot point in the game,” defensive end Cory Morrissey called the run.
“It was a momentum changer for sure,” Rhoads added.
The Iowa State defense surrendered 503 yards of total offense, including 299 on the ground. Crockett alone rushed for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, an Iowa State offense that started so quickly went by the wayside. After scoring on two of the first three drives of the game with 20 plays, the Cyclones had only 37 plays the remainder of the game on the next eight drives, going three-and-out four times while Richardson threw interceptions on two of the others.
“It was a big thing for both of them to go down,” running back DeVondrick Nealy said. “Even though they went down, we still have to learn how to progress and challenge adversity. We have to keep moving on.”
Richardson finished 20-for-31 with 151 yards and the two interceptions. He was the Cyclones’ leading rusher with 58 yards on 15 carries.
“We got beat by a team that is better than us on August 30, 2014. That’s what happened,” Rhoads said. “Now we improve and try to improve ourselves and be better the next time we step on the field.”
After a season-opening loss to Northern Iowa set the tone for a 3-9 season last year, the Cyclones are hoping to avoid allowing Saturday's loss to do the same.
“Everybody came out with big hopes,” Nealy said. “We were fresh, we were ready to win [because] we prepared so well. We didn’t take them lightly, we didn’t overlook them at all, not once. It happened the way it happened, so we have to deal with it.”