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Jantz makes enough plays in victory

John Bohnenkamp, The Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

IOWA CITY – For a while, it was almost identical to last season, the way Steele Jantz was carving the Iowa defense.

The Iowa State quarterback completed his first 10 passes in Saturday’s game at Kinnick Stadium, leading the Cyclones inside the Iowa 10-yard line on the first three possessions.

But before Jantz could turn this game into another highlight reel, Iowa’s defense was able to slow him down just enough to make this game come down to the final minute.

Still, Jantz and the Cyclones were able to get out of town with a 9-6 win.

“Obviously, it’s just a huge win for us,” Jantz said.

Jantz threw for four touchdowns in last year’s triple-overtime 44-41 victory, when Iowa’s defense had no answer for Jantz’s ability to get loose.

And this game looked like it would be more of the same.

Jantz threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Horne on the Cyclones’ opening possession. He took the Cyclones to the Iowa 3-yard line on the next drive that ended when Shontrelle Johnson fumbled and Iowa’s Dominic Alvis recovered.

Then, early in the second quarter, on third-and-goal from the Iowa 4, Jantz just missed on a pass to Ernst Brun in the end zone, his first incompletion of the day. Edwin Arceo was able to knock in a 22-yard field goal, and Iowa State led 9-3.

“There was a time there in the first half when he was playing really, really good football,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.

But then Iowa’s defense began to solve the Jantz problem. Iowa State’s offense was held to just 147 yards on its last nine possessions, and the Hawkeyes forced three turnovers.

Tom Donatell intercepted Jantz late in the first half, James Morris recovered a fumble after Jantz couldn’t connect with James White on a handoff late in the third quarter, and then Morris intercepted Jantz in the end zone when the Cyclones appeared to be on their way for a game-clinching touchdown.

“Their defense is really well-coached,” said Jantz, who completed 24-of-36 passes for 241 yards in the game, and rushed for 40 yards. “They were doing a lot of things with their line, they gave us different looks. You could just tell they were making adjustments for us.

“I felt like a lot of times, they had an understanding for what we were wanting to do and they did a good job stopping it. That’s why they have such a good defense, because they’re smart. I think what they did contributed a lot to how we stalled.”

Morris said the key to stopping the Cyclones was, “Just tackling better. Getting more guys to the football, understanding what they wanted to do. More mental adjustment than physical adjustment.”

The Cyclones had four possessions in the second half where they were held to three-and-out, including the opening possession of the second half.

“Any time you spend 15 minutes on a chalkboard at halftime talking about what happened in the last 30 minutes, and how you were going to go out and attack it, and then go three-and-out as an offense, I’m not very happy about it,” Rhoads said. “They came out and made a lot of plays in the second half as a defensive football team.”

“It was frustrating, as expected,” Jantz said. “But I felt like we kept our composure. They were just very prepared for what we wanted to do.”

Rhoads said the offensive struggles would be a topic on conversation today.

“I’m not going to be too critical of Steele Jantz, though,” he said. “I’m not walking away from this game disappointed in Steele Jantz.”

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