ISU Overcomes Turnovers For Victory Over SDSU

A win is a win. That was the sentiment of Iowa State head football coach Gene Chizik after his team's 44-17 win over South Dakota State Thursday night at Jack Trice Stadium. The biggest win for the Cyclones since 2005 may not have been the prettiest victory but it was a victory nonetheless.

A crowd of 46,617 watched a somewhat ugly game that featured nine turnovers, including seven in the first half, but the victory came down to who was able to convert those turnovers into points. Iowa State was able to convert six Jackrabbit turnovers into 20 points, while South Dakota State could not convert on any of the three Cyclone turnovers.

"During two-a-days, the coaches have been stressing to get the ball out, and we did that tonight," linebacker Jesse Smith said.

Chizik said the defense got the team out of some big jams.

"A difference we saw from last year was we needed to force more turnovers and score points on defense," Chizik said.

Iowa State did that and five of those turnovers were interceptions and those were returned for a school-record 202 return yards. Two of those interceptions and 108 of those yards came on screen passes that were picked off by defensive lineman Kurtis Taylor and Austin Alburtis. The 202 yards broke the previous record of 167 yards, which was set against UNI in 1945.

The Cyclone defense allowed only three points and 199 yards through three quarters and also contributed a score of its own on a 37-yard INT return by Derec Schmidgall.

The quarterback battle between sophomores Austen Arnaud and Phillip Bates became more clear, but is not completely decided, according to Chizik. Arnaud played most of the game and went 8-11 for 98 yards and a touchdown, while Bates was 5-8 for 61 yards and a first-half touchdown to Sedrick Johnson and ran for 55 yards as well.

The Cyclones took the ball to start the game and promptly drove 69 yards and scored on a one-yard sneak by Arnaud. That drive was one of several that showcased a new no-huddle look on offense.

Running back Alexander Robinson said the offense has been working on the no-huddle since spring practice and it adds a new dimension to the offense.

"We get the chance to see what defenses are in and what is the best play that will work against it," Robinson said. "When we start running the ball and running the ball well, that gets defenses tired and if we can keep rolling like that, that will definitely help us execute on offense."

Iowa State got the ball back after a fumble on the Jackrabbit 20 but Alexander Robinson fumbled at the one and South Dakota State recovered. The Cyclones did force a punt but fumbled the ball on the return.

Two plays after that, though, Taylor intercepted a pass and returned it 47 yards to set up a 35-yard Grant Mahoney field goal. Mahoney later connected on field goals from 36 and 30 yards and was perfect on extra points and handled all of the kicking duties for a good portion of the evening.

South Dakota State got on the board with a 12-play drive to start the second half but was only able to manage three points as the Cyclone defense stiffened in the red zone.

The Cyclones quickly answered, however, with a 11-play drive that ended with Arnaud throwing his first touchdown pass of 2008, an 18-yard pass to freshman receiver Darius Darks that extended the lead to 27-3.

Both Darks and Johnson caught touchdown passes in their first collegiate game.

"You saw a glimpse of what I think you are going to see down the road from them," Chizik said.

Jason Harris closed out the Cyclone scoring in the fourth quarter with a spectacular 68-yard sprint to the end zone. The Cyclones held a 388-350 advantage in total offense, with 229 yards of those yards coming on the ground.

Robinson carried the ball 15 times for 74 and R.J. Sumrall led the team with four catches for 35 yards. Michael Bibbs led the defensive charge with nine tackles and an interception that set up one of Mahoney's field goals.

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