Cyclones Dominate Aggies 42-14

The Iowa State Cyclones went into their game with the Texas A&M Aggies hoping to do one thing: take 86,000 fans out of the game at the raucous Kyle Field. How can a team that has never defeated the Aggies pull this feat off? Total domination on both sides of the ball.

Bret Meyer threw for a career-high 371 yards and four touchdowns, and the defense held Aggie quarterback Reggie McNeal to 16 yards rushing and 221 yard passing in the Cyclones' 42-14 victory over the Aggies on Saturday afternoon in College Station, Texas.


"This was a tremendous win for the Cyclones," said Cyclone Head Coach Dan McCarney after the game, "and it was a great day for Iowa State. We have tremendous respect for Coach Fran (Dennis Franchione) and the Aggies, but these kids just would not be denied. This is probably as big a victory as we have had since I've been at Iowa State."


The Cyclones were not denied as they dominated both side of the ball. In addition to Meyer's day behind center, Todd Blythe had a career day with eight receptions for 214 yards and a school-record four touchdowns. In addition to the passing against the conference's worst pass defense, Stevie Hicks came back from an unspecified injury with 25 rushes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.


"It seems like it's been a whole season since I've been out there," quipped Hicks. "I was surprised that I got 25 carries. I didn't think that I was going to get that many, and I thought that they were going to limit me. But when things started to go good, they also finished good, too."


"We didn't honestly know if he was going to be able to carry twice or 20 times," McCarney said. "We just didn't know. Sunday and Tuesday, he ran full speed, and Wednesday and Thursday, he looked three-quarters speed, so we just didn't know."


Hicks ran the ball hard behind the blocking of the offensive line, and his two touchdowns were a career-high. However, the biggest difference with Hicks in the lineup was the ball security. There were no fumbles for the Cyclones as well as no turnovers for the entire game.


"The offense was great today," Hicks said. "We finally played to our potential, and we just have to keep doing that."


The offense started off the day with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Blythe's first touchdown. It was a one-handed (left hand) catch with the Aggie defender in tight coverage. It was the second consecutive week in which the Cyclones scored on their first drive of the game, and it has been the only two times that has happened this season.


After the teams traded short drives, the Aggies began their next drive at their own 17. After a 10 yard completion, Courtney Lewis took a handoff from Reggie McNeal and broke through the line into an open secondary. The ensuing foot race was won by Lewis, and the Aggies had quickly tied the game up at seven.


The Cyclones broke the tie in the second quarter with a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Hicks scored the first of his two touchdowns with a two yard run. But A&M came back five plays later with a 64 yard sprint by McNeal down the left sideline with a cutback toward the center of the field. However, a costly holding call on the Aggies brought the play back, and the Aggies were forced to punt a few plays later. Iowa State was able to run out the clock for a 14-7 halftime lead.


The Cyclones got the ball right back at the beginning of the second half, but their drive didn't start well. After Hicks rushed for no gain, Meyer was sacked for a 10-yard loss back to the 15. On third and 20, Meyer made a big play on a quarterback draw to gain 21 yards and a first down. The Cyclones marched it down the field after that. On third and seven from their own 47, Meyer rolled right and found Blythe running across the field from the other side. Blythe made the catch and ran away from two Aggie defenders who ended up on the ground after the catch. The seven play, 75-yard drive made the score 21-7.


The defense picked up the pace in the second half and shut down the Aggies after a couple of first downs. The big play was made by Jamarr Buchanan, who tripped up McNeal for a four-yard loss on third down and three.


Iowa State began their next drive at their own 16 yard line. Ten plays and 84 yards later, Blythe scored his third touchdown of the afternoon with a 19-yard reception from Meyer. The Cyclones' advantage increased to 28-7 with Blythe's catch.


The defense stepped up again with DeAndre Jackson's third interception of the season three plays later, but they failed to capitalize on the turnover and were forced to punt.


Texas A&M started with the ball on their 20 and marched down the field in 12 plays to score on a 9-yard pass from McNeal to Jason Carter. This touchdown cut Iowa State's lead down to 28-14. With memories of the Missouri loss still on their minds, how would the Cyclones react to the attempted comeback? Six plays, 81 yards with the combination of Meyer and Blythe scoring from 63 yards out, and suddenly the Cyclones' lead was back to three touchdowns at 35-14.


The deal was sealed on the ensuing kickoff when Brandon Hunley forced a fumble from Courtney Lewis, and Steve Paris was there to recover the ball at the Aggie 19.


"Our specials teams were outstanding again," said McCarney. "We've been begging our kids to force a turnover on our special teams because we haven't done it yet. Finally, Brandon Hunley knocked it loose. It was a big play in the game."


Four plays later, Hicks scored his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard run. This increased the lead to 42-14 for Iowa State, which was also the final score.


"We came into this game saying that we had to get at least three turnovers and give up zero or one," McCarney said. "And we won it 3-0. We felt that was going to be one of the biggest keys to the game."


Iowa State finished the game with 549 total yards on 82 plays. They had the ball for over 35 minutes, and they should maintain their position as the top team in the Big 12 for time of possession. Iowa State also earned 30 first downs compared to 16 for Texas A&M. The Cyclone defense held the Aggies to 14 points, which was 23 points below their average of 37.4 points per game. Another important difference was the ability for the Cyclones to convert their third-down opportunities. They were 11 of 18 in third-down conversions, and this compared to 5 of 14 for the Aggies.


The victory improved the Cyclones' record to 2-3 in the North Division and 5-3 overall. They are now tied for 3rd place with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Aggies fell to 3-2 in the South Division and 5-3 overall, which means they are now in 4th place. The Cyclones will prepare for their next contest on Saturday with a home date against the Kansas State Wildcats.

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