Iowa State overwhelmed Akron on both sides of the football for most of Saturday’s non-conference game at InfoCision Stadium, resulting in a 41-14 Cyclone victory over the Zips.
The win improved ISU to 2-1 on the year in its final non-conference outing of 2017. I-State has an open week upcoming and then hosts Texas in the Big 12 opener for both teams on Thursday, Sept. 28.
It was a near-dominant performance for Iowa against Akron of the Mid-American Conference. The Cyclones survived a shaky second quarter and slow start to the third to pull away from the Zips for ISU’s largest margin of victory in a non-conference road game since a 31-0 win at Iowa in 1978.
I-State’s 41-point output represented the third straight game of 40 or more points for the Cyclones. It’s just the fourth time in school history that has happened, matching similar three-game runs in 1976, 1971 and spanning the 1943 and 1944 seasons. The ’76 and ’71 Cyclones both finished 8-3.
This year’s Iowa State team is still a long way from eight victories. But taking care of business in Akron kept the Cyclones on schedule to get to the six wins needed for bowl eligibility by today's standards.
The Cyclones jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead in the first-ever meeting between Iowa State and Akron.
Park passed seven yards to Allen Lazard for a touchdown on ISU’s second possession of the game for a 7-0 I-State lead with 4:39 to play in the quarter. Mike Warren powered into the end zone from a yard out on the Cyclones’ next series and after the Garrett Owens PAT, it was 14-0 Iowa State.
Akron pulled within 14-7 on a 45-yard busted coverage touchdown pass from Thomas Woodson to Kwadarrius Smith with 7:21 to go before halftime. Owens hit back-to-back 40-yard field goals for Iowa State to build the Cyclone lead to 20-7, but the Zips scored again just 38 seconds before halftime on an 11-yard TD pass from Woodson to running back Warren Ball. ISU led, 20-14, at the half.
Owens missed a chip shot field goal from 25 yards out early in the third quarter, raising the angst level among Cyclone fans as Akron took over the football with momentum. But the I-State defense came up with a stop on the next Zips’ possession after it moved into ISU territory. Then the Cyclones moved 80 yards on six plays on their next series with Park scrambling an improvising on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Marchie Murdock with 3:34 to play in the third quarter to put Iowa State back up by two scores, 27-14.
A Joel Lanning interception on the ensuing Akron possession set up the Iowa State offense with a short field at the Zips’ 16-yard line. Aided by a questionable targeting personal foul penalty on Akron on a third-down play, the Cyclones got back in the end zone on a nine-yard TD run by Montgomery to push the ISU lead to 34-14 with 1:34 to play in the third quarter.
Park scrambled 14 yards for the final touchdown of the game with 5:12 left to play. The junior Cyclone quarterback completed 24-of-33 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns. Trever Ryen caught six passes for 80 yards to lead ISU receivers and Lazard and Montgomery each had five catches. Montgomery led the Cyclone rushing attack with 127 yards on 22 carries.
Iowa State finished the game with 508 yards of total offense, rushing for 191 and passing for 317. The Cyclone defense held Akron to 38 rushing yards, thanks in large part to six quarterback sacks, five coming in the first half. The Zips passed for 293 yards and finished with 331 total yards in the game.
Lanning was Iowa State’s leading tackler with eight and Willie Harvey recorded seven stops. Reggie Wilkerson and De’Monte Ruth finished with six tackles each. Ruth was among several ISU defensive backs that saw the most extensive playing time of their careers, along with safeties Braxton Lewis and Lawrence White and corner Victor Holmes.
Starting safety Kamari Cotton-Moya missed the game with an injury suffered last week. Starting cornerback D'Andre Payne left the Akron game early with an injury.
David Dermer USA Today