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Cyclones overcome improving Army, 28-21
West Point, NY - The No. 22-ranked Iowa State Cyclones (3-0) overcame a 21-14 deficit entering the fourth quarter and held off two late Army possessions to take a 28-21 victory played on a Friday night at Michie Stadium in front of 25,007 fans. Poor special teams play by Army (0-3) and a questionable face-mask infraction aided the Cyclones as leading rusher Stevie Hicks was held to 22 yards on 9 carries. Hicks entered the game with 208 yards in previous games against Illinois State and Iowa. Army out-gained the Cyclones through the air and on the ground 365 yards to 229, but State DB DeAndre Jackson's 125 return yards on two kick-offs and timely interception provided his team with great field position deep into Army territory as did several other ISU interceptions. Army played inspired football though and made great improvements, especially on offense, since the 20-10 Baylor loss we'd watched only six days earlier. This was the third week in a row that Collegefootballfan.com added a new Big 12 team to our Goal. CFF added Iowa State team as its 98th team. The heavily-favored Cyclones escaped with its undefeated record intact before it starts Big 12 play next week in search of the Big 12 North title.
On Army's first drive, a good play call but poorly underthrown option pass by RB Carlton Jones was intercepted by State DB Steve Paris. The Army receiver had Paris beaten. Army held, took the ball back, and this time an overthrown ball by QB Zac Dahman was picked off by Paris again to start the ISU drive at the Army 39. ISU gambled on fourth and one at the thirty to continue the drive which led to a 15 yard TD pass from QB Brent Mayer to WR Austin Flynn. PK Brett Culbertson added the PAT and the team from Ames took the lead, 7-0. Army responded with an 80-yard drive culminating in a 19-yard screen pass from Dahman to TB Scott Wesley who got good blocks to take it into the left side of the end zone. PK Joe Riley's kick knotted the score, 7-7. Army seemed to have learned that it could move the ball through the air as it had learned during its final series against Baylor when it scored its lone TD of the game the week before. Dahman threw for 233 yards on 19 of 34 passing with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. ISU's attempt to break on top before the quarter was thwarted when Mayer's bomb intended for Flynn was taken off Flynn's shoulder by S Ray Stith and returned 29 yards to his own 43.
In the second period, Wesley returned an ISU punt to the ISU 32. Dahman passed to WR Jacob Murphy to get to the six. From there, Dahman rolled left and found WR Walter Hill streaking through the end zone on a crossing pattern to take a 14-7 Army lead. The Army offense seemed to gain confidence while its defense played inspired football. On the final series of the half, the Cadets started a drive from their own 22. With 3 seconds left, a Joe Riley 48 yard FG attempt fell short, and Army took the lead into the locker rooms. ISU seemed shocked to find Army so competitive. CFF was very surprised. Guest Game Analyst Charlie Roberts (Lehigh) was impressed by the well-balanced Army offense. The Army defense played well against Baylor, and played even better against a more high-powered Cyclone offense.
The halftime show started with two fans ineptly trying to hurl footballs through two holes on the Jeep Touchdown Toss. Do they intentionally look for fans who have no athletic ability whatsoever? In thirty seconds, neither "scored" from only seven yards away. Several times they missed the entire 4X8 frame! The USMA band dedicated its theme this evening to speed, and with fireworks, the Army NASCAR entry revved around the field to the cheers of the Corps. We never saw a "marching" band with drummers sitting at drum sets before, and of all the places, at Army? Country recording star Michael Peterson dedicated his "Warrior" song to the Corps of Cadets.
ISU's DeAndre Jackson started the second half with some fireworks of his own as he returned the second half kick-off to the Army 44, but the Black Knights held them to one yard to force a punt. ISU forced Army to punt from its 24 and blocked the ensuing punt to take over with great field position at the Army 23. A middle screen to RB Greg Coleman from the four got the Cyclones back on the scoreboard to tie it up, 14-14. Later, a tipped ISU pass was intercepted by Army's Caleb Campbell to set up at the Cyclone 40. The Cadets took it to the one-yard line where TB Scott Wesley went off right tackle to regain the lead for Army, 21-14. Though Army had the lead before the third period ended, DeAndre Jackson got his team fired up and back into scoring position with a kick-off return to the Army 32.
With first and ten at the Army 20, Mayer's next pass was tipped by his receiver and intercepted by a diving Dhyan Tarver at Army's four-yard line. The defense had stopped a good ISU offense once again, but DB/return man DeAndre Jackson turned things around quickly again with an interception to give the Cyclones possession at the Army 27. Army's defense kept the Cyclones at bay with a fourth and two at the 19. On the biggest play of the game, Army's DE Craig Cameron, #94, tackled QB Mayer for a loss to supposedly take the ball back on downs and stop the ISU scoring threat, but a late flag was thrown at the tackler and an incidental face-mask call against #54, LB Calvin Shrode, gave the ball back to the Cyclones with a first down. The call wasn't evident from our seats at the 37 behind the ISU bench. Bobby Ross fumed and chewed out the refs to no avail, of course. And he continued to do so after the Cyclones took advantage of new life to tie the score, 21-21, on a four-yard run by FB Ryan Kock with 11:07 remaining in the game. The penalty became the turning point of the game. ISU's next possession starting from their own 48 resulted in a 3-yard run by Kock once again who scored twice on seven runs for 25 yards. The Cyclones still had their hands full with a 28-21 lead and 6:50 remaining. Army put together a long drive, stopping the clock with passes and getting the ball out of bounds effectively. With a fourth down at the Cyclone 24 with :38 remaining in the game, Ross still hadn't used any of his timeouts to call a play. Army came up short on a draw play with fourth and three to give the ball back to ISU at the 26. Now using time-outs, Army forced ISU to punt after consuming only 9 seconds on three downs with :17 left. Iowa State punted to Army where they took over at their own 48. Dahman dropped back and ISU sacked him to end the game. The Cyclones came away with the 28-21 victory earned against an inspired Army football team. We came away thinking that we are seeing an improving Army team, and perhaps, an over-rated Iowa State team. It could have been down after its win over Iowa and its anticipation of Big 12 play, but ISU will need to work on its offensive game plan for some upcoming opponents. Iowa State starts its Big 12 North quest with a visit to Nebraska. They then play Baylor and then at Missouri, the two Big 12 teams we'd seen play in previous weeks this season. The Cyclones are going to have to get their offense going again to challenge in this conference. The game at Missouri should be a good one. Army hosts UConn next week, a team which we saw dominate them in East Hartford last year, 40-3. We'll expect the result to be a little different this time, at least closer.
Extra Points: Friday night traffic to West Point was light. We parked in the general public lot near Thayer Hotel which is much more convenient than Target Hill far on the other side of campus. The kicker is that we needed a parking pass to park far away for the Baylor game and needed none for this one which is much closer to the stadium. Parking and bus rides to Michie are prepaid by our tax dollars.
GGA Charlie and I bought our tickets from a guy with extras. Typically, he says, "good seats". They were! Five rows from the top at the 37 behind the ISU bench. It's a good seat where you get to see all the activities going on across the field near the Army sidelines and stands. Hot dogs and sodas was our evening meal after a few beers in the parking lot after our drive up the Palisades Parkway. The big screen is a joke there because it's so small. We're sure a bigger screen is on a list of improvements for Michie.
Four parachutists landed on Blaik Field with the ceremonial game balls. You could hear a helicopter in the night sky and eventually pick up the yellow canopies on their descents as they approached the stadium. Two jumpers nailed the 50-yard line. The Corps was inspired and in fatigues this night. No ISU flags were stolen and no ISU cheerleaders were absconded or deflated (a la' Baylor's Bear), so orders must have been passed down to cease and desist on the fun. Whatever that bird was on the ISU sideline should be happy his feathers weren't plucked. He probably owes that to the USMA chain of command.
We have one more Army game planned in November for a big tailgate against Arkansas State on the Nov. 19. With Army seeming to become more competitive, we are starting to think Army-Navy game this year. It may be a very competitive game again this year.
Army QB Zac Dahman completed passes to nine different receivers. Army RB Carlton Jones had 122 yards on 34 carries. ISU Coach Dan McCarney holds the Cyclone record for most games as Head Coach at 120 and for most wins with 48.
CFF attended the last Army night game at Michie, the 59-52 OT win over Louisville on October 7, 1999. It was the highest scoring game CFF ever attended and our first OT.
The low 25,0007 attendance can be attributed to four things, maybe five: Travel inconvenience in the area on a Friday night, a poor Army record thus far, threatening weather, and most importantly, we think, a large contingent of Alum are overseas at war. Being on ESPN2 may have made people to decide to watch from home, too.
It took us over one-half hour to get out of our parking lot because of poor traffic management up there. You'd think they'd have this down by now, especially with such a small crowd. Didn't they know CFF has places to go, things to do, etc, etc? We got moving by about 12:30 am., kissed the sleeping wife, got to bed at home at 2 am, woke up at 5 am, kissed the sleeping wife, drove to Philly airport 2 hours away for an 8:30 am flight with GGA Rich Williams, ran to the plane as the last two passengers to board after the slow security check, slept a little on the Southwest flight to Chicago, got to Midway at 9:30 CST, got the rental car, and proceeded to look for Northwestern's Ryan Field in Evanston, IL. for the 11 am Northwestern-PSU start. We still needed tickets, too! Penn State-Northwestern, here we come! To be continued....(see PSU-N'west)