Goal-Line Stand Secures Cardinal Win

This was exactly how Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney would have drawn it up, except for one very important aspect. The Cyclones' kicking woes returned in Saturday's spring game, and it almost cost the Cardinal team an intrasquad victory.

Three different Iowa State kickers missed a total of four field goals, including last season's starter Bret Culbertson who missed a pair from 40 yards. The shortcomings on special teams put a damper on what was otherwise a solid offensive performance from the starters.

The Cardinal squad gained 523 yards, including 318 by way of Bret Meyer's arm, but it amounted to just 27 points overall.

"The best news was we didn't have to try and kick a PAT or field goal in the second half," said McCarney, who watched his first-teamers rally from an 11-point halftime deficit. "That was embarrassing sitting up in the press box watching that. None of those kickers have been that bad this spring.

"Who is your number one kicker? I don't know. Roll the dice. Pick a number. None of those guys looked like the starting kicker today. I was really disappointed with watching that today."

In addition to Culbertson's two missed 3-pointers, Corey Paetznick and Brian Jansen missed field goals of 29 and 21 yards, respectively. Jansen likely sealed his fate with a missed PAT late in the opening half.

Except for Tony Yelk – who nailed a 29-yard field goal and had a good day punting – and incoming freshman recruit Chris Mahoski, McCarney said no kicker's job is safe for the start of camp.

"I'm not bringing seven kickers to camp and filtering through them to see who can kick," ISU's head coach said. "You're only allowed 105 for two-a-days. We'll watch this tape and look at the composite, then I'll make the decision as a head coach who even comes in and vies for the job when we got started."

Asked who his kicker would be if the Cyclones played tomorrow, McCarney wasn't so sure.

"Who could you trust coming out of that deal? Missing PATs and field goals. We have the best rush defense rushing kicks in the conference and one of the best in the country, and we don't rush any of them all day. Yet we still can't kick them. I can't look at that today and say this is our number one kicker. I'm not sure which ones I'm going to invite to camp, based on what I saw today."

Other than the blatant shortcomings in the kicking game, ISU's offense was stellar. Meyer connected on 22-of-34 passes for one touchdown and cleared the 300-yard barrier. He added 63 yards and another score on the ground.

Cardinal rushers Stevie Hicks and Jason Scales combined for 121 yards on 27 carries. Scales was particularly impressive in the decisive second half, scoring touchdowns from one and four yards out.

"Scales had a good spring and you saw more of him today," McCarney said. "I like the improvement. He's done a lot of good things. Stevie has had a little bit of a sore toe the last few days. It's still 1-2-3 with Hicks, Scales, and Coleman coming out of today. (David) Brown is our fourth, then we've got two backs coming in. They're all good players."

Many Cyclone fans got their glimpse of Austin Flynn at wide receiver. It's suffice to say he got a passing grade, catching five passes for 70 yards and making some good blocks downfield. Flynn will enter the offseason as a starting wideout after making the position move in the offseason.

"You saw from Austin Flynn what we see everyday," McCarney said. "He makes plays and runs good routes. He's going to be an outstanding receiver. Milan Moses and Jon Davis did some good things. I thought Bret Meyer – with no picks and fumbles – did a real nice job leading our offense."

Although the Cardinal squad piled up yardage and first downs, it would still need a late goal-line stand to secure a victory. By doing most of the work himself, quarterback Terrance Highsmith mounted a late drive into Cardinal territory.

The quarterback-turned wide receiver-turned quarterback rushed five times for 28 yards and completed 3-of-4 passes for 42 yards to put the White team in scoring position. But his quarterback sneak on 4th-and-goal at the one came up short of the end zone as time expired.

"I've never seen anything like that before," McCarney said. "That's what we do in our scrimmages. I didn't think with officials in a stadium and Fox TV that we'd have 95 guys on the field out there. Our kids like to do that and are supporting their teammates. When we're in goal-line situations in scrimmages that's the way we like it. It was good to see. I'll look at the replay and see if we got a stop in that."

Highsmith got plenty of opportunities in the second half after fellow competitor Kyle Van Winkle left the game with a broken collarbone. A former JUCO transfer, Highsmith completed 7-of-13 passes overall and rushed 10 times for 54 yards.

Van Winkle will not need surgery and is likely out of throwing drills until July. However, McCarney would not name Highsmith the clear-cut number two heading into fall camp.

"You saw the elusiveness he has, and he's got some potential as a thrower," he said of Highsmith. "He's got some talent and can make some plays. He's mobile and can make plays out of a moving pocket. But there is still a pretty good dropoff between one and two right now at quarterback. No one has got it solidified. That competition will be on real strong come fall."

Defensively, Caleb Berg led the White team with 11 tackles while Matt Robertson was tops on the Cardinal with six. Nick Leaders added five, including three tackles-for-loss, for the starters.

Nick Howe, Kurtis Taylor, and Nick Leaders each recorded sacks. Nik Moser and Broc Bebout recorded interceptions for the Cardinal.


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