"The Snake" Helps Put ISU in Historic Position

A play that wasn't in the package for Saturday's game against Kansas State - in fact, it wasn't even in the play book - helped the Cyclones to what some are calling the most important win in Iowa State football history.

When Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer connected on a 51 yard reception to wide receiver Todd Blythe with less than five minutes remaining in the game against Kansas State, it was perhaps the play of the game in the Cyclones' stunning fourth quarter comeback to defeat the Wildcats.

With the win, ISU became bowl eligible, put themselves on the threshold of a Big XII North Division Championship, and posted what might arguably be the biggest win in an otherwise uneventful football history.

But the "Play of the Day" couldn't even be found in the playbook.

"We'd been running a route to the corner all day and the coaches saw something in the middle of the field," Blythe said. "They said why don't you run four or five steps to the corner and cut back to the middle of the field and there shouldn't be a safety there."

Just as planned, the play worked to perfection.

"It was a great call by coach (Barney) Cotton and coach (Mike) Grant and the rest of the offensive staff."

The play was a modified version of one called the "Snake Route" but the Cyclones had never run it out of the formation they were in and it wasn't even in the package for Saturday's game.

"We actually had to take Bret's wristband off and write the play on it so we could run it at the right time," Blythe said.

The play was the key one on a drive that ended up with a three yard touchdown toss from Meyer to Todd Miller which pulled the Cyclones even with the Wildcats at 23 after being down by 14 just a few minutes earlier.

Iowa State went on to score two more times in the waning minutes of the game to post their first win over Kansas State in 10 years and move into a legitimate shot at the Big XII North title.

"It was just a great adjustment by the coaches from the box," Blythe said.

Coach Dan McCarney's philosophy of optimism and never giving up paid great dividends on Saturday and representatives of the Houston Bowl and the Independence Bowl were there to witness the happenings.

"We really like Iowa State," Houston Bowl Director Robert Dale Morgan said at halftime. "We love the team, their coaches and enthusiastic fans and would be thrilled if we get the chance to invite them to our game."

He had to love the Cyclones even more after the fourth quarter and see the outpouring of emotion as the team ran to the southeast corner of the Stadium to bond with the wildly cheering group of fans that made the trip to Manhattan. Both players and fans joined in a stirring rendition of "Iowa State Fights" that was surprisingly on key. You know the Cyclones are on a roll when the team sounds like a chorus.

Most of the ISU players are too young to have participated in memorable victories, but senior Ellis Hobbs left no doubt that this was the biggest ever.

"It's the greatest," Hobbs said. "With everything on the line and the way we'd played these guys in the past and the way we won, it was the sweetest I've ever been a part of."

"It's turning into a year to remember," Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde said.

The ISU A.D. said the win reminded him of some memorable early wins as Kansas State turned the corner during his years in Manhattan. He also pointed out how this shows that a school with relatively limited resources can still find a way to win if they persevere and do things the right way, as McCarney has.

"I'm most happy for our fans, the players and the coaches," he said.

But he's also got to be happy for his administration as a trip to a bowl as well as a probable trip to Kansas City for the title game loom ahead.

"The conference shares the direct revenue from those events, but the intangibles are worth millions to our athletic department," he said.

The historic win that put the Cyclones in a position to reap those rewards was due to a great team effort on offense, defense and special teams.

And a special mention goes to some great coaching and playmaking on the fly – or on "The Snake."


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