Cyclones return two interceptions for TDs in win over Panthers

AMES, Iowa -- Jeremy Reeves returned an interception 94 yards for a touchdown and A.J. Klein returned a pick for another score a few minutes later, sending Iowa State to a 27-0 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday night.

Grant Mahoney kicked two field goals for the Cyclones (2-2) and Alexander Robinson added a 6-yard TD run after Mahoney scurried for a first down on a fake field goal.

It was the first time the Cyclones returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a game since they did it against Northern Illinois on Sept. 18, 2004.

Northern Iowa (1-2) moved the ball well at times in the schools' first meeting since the Panthers upset the Cyclones 24-13 in 2007. But they were done in by three interceptions and two fumbles and they also had a field-goal attempt blocked.

Iowa State played most of the way with second-string quarterback Jerome Tiller. Starter Austen Arnaud, who injured his non-throwing shoulder in a 27-20 loss to Kansas State a week ago, left after three plays and did not return.

Thanks to the big plays by the defense, the Cyclones didn't have to lean heavily on Tiller, who played a turnover-free game.

Reeves' interception return matched the second-longest in school history and came when the Panthers were threatening to get within a touchdown. On Zach Davis' pass from the Iowa State 20-yard line, Reeves sprinted in front of receiver Carlos Anderson, grabbed the ball at the 6 in full stride and sped untouched down the left sideline to put the Cyclones up 20-0.

Davis, who replaced starter Tirrell Rennie at the start of the second half, was hit by tackle Stephen Ruempolhamer just as he released the ball.

The longest ISU return was Dick Howard's 100-yarder against Kansas State in 1945. Dustin Avey went 94 yards against Colorado in 1997.

A little more than 10 minutes later, with Rennie back in the game, Klein dropped back from his linebacker spot, picked off a pass at the UNI 25 and found a clear path to the end zone.

Klein, who also recovered a fumble, returned an interception 69 yards for a TD against Kansas State. He became the first Iowa State player to return two interceptions for touchdowns in the same season since Dawan Anderson did it against Wyoming and Kansas in 1996.

Mahoney kicked field goals of 37 and 45 yards to give ISU a 6-0 lead and lined up for what appeared to be another attempt at the UNI 24 late in the second quarter.

But holder Daniel Kuehl, the team's backup punter, got up after catching the snap and began running around right end. As a tackler closed in, Kuehl lateraled to Mahoney trailing the play and the junior kicker, running the ball for the first time in his college career, gained 5 yards for a first down.

Tiller's 15-yard pass to Sedrick Johnson on third-and-12 put the ball at the 6. The Cyclones then snapped the ball quickly and Robinson burst up the middle for the touchdown. He was tackled short of the end zone, but a review upheld the score.

Arnaud completed his first pass but bounced his second throw well short of his intended receiver and coach Paul Rhoads went with Tiller the rest of the way.

Tiller finished 11 of 22 for 87 yards and was sacked four times. Outgained 320-210, the Cyclones preserved the shutout when they recovered Rennie's fumble in their own end zone with 1:31 left.


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2015 Missouri Valley Football Conference Standings

Illinois State7-19-2
North Dakota State7-19-2
Northern Iowa5-38-4
South Dakota State5-38-4
Western Illinois5-37-5
Indiana State3-55-6
South Dakota3-55-6
Youngstown State3-55-6
Southern Illinois2-63-8
Missouri State0-81-10