Iowa St holds off Minnesota 14-13 in Insight Bowl

Published 10:21 pm Thursday, December 31, 2009

Alexander Robinson ran for 137 yards, and Austen Arnaud threw for one touchdown and ran for another as Iowa State defeated Minnesota 14-13 in the Insight Bowl on Thursday night, capping the Cyclones’ first winning season since 2005.

The Cyclones (7-6) overcame four turnovers by Arnaud, who threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles.

Iowa State won for the third time in 10 bowl games — and the second in Arizona.

Email newsletter signup

Minnesota’s Adam Weber threw for 261 yards and a score, and Kyle Theret picked off two passes for the Golden Gophers (6-7), who became the first three-time Insight Bowl loser.

The Insight pitted two 6-6 squads that needed to defeat a team from the Dakotas to become bowl-eligible.

A crowd of 45,090 turned out on a 63-degree afternoon at Sun Devil Stadium, capacity 56,000.

Early on, it looked as if it might be a typically high-scoring Insight Bowl.

After stuffing the Cyclones on a fourth-and-1 at the Minnesota 26, the Golden Gophers marched 55 yards before stalling and settling for a 36-yard field goal by Eric Ellestad.

The lead held up until late in the second quarter, when the Cyclones went 71 yards in 10 plays. Arnaud kept the drive going with a 15-yard strike to Jake Williams on third-and-14, then ran for 18 yards on another third-and-14.

Arnaud capped the drive with a 9-yard option carry, dragging Minnesota’s Kim Royston into the end zone to give the Cyclones a 7-3 lead.

The Gophers responded with a long march of their own, but Iowa State’s David Sims picked off a pass in the end zone with 1:23 to go in the half.

That led to the Cyclones’ most impressive possession — a lightning 89-yard drive in 1 minute. Arnaud hit Williams for a 38-yard score after the Gophers’ Kyle Theret fell down, leaving Williams all alone.

That gave the Cyclones a 14-3 halftime lead, and they romped off the field as their red-and-yellow-clad followers rose to applaud.

But the game quickly turned as a full moon rose over the mountains to the east.

With the Cyclones threatening to blow the game open early in the third quarter, Arnaud fumbled at Minnesota’s 32.

The Gophers moved into Iowa State territory, but Ellestad missed a 34-yard field goal.

One possession later, the Gophers stunned the Cyclones with a brilliant trick play. On fourth-and-4 at Minnesota’s 37-yard line, punter Blake Haudan hit a wide-open Theret for 40 yards — the junior defensive back’s first career reception.,

One play later Weber found tight end Nick Tow-Arnett for a 23-yard touchdown to cut Iowa State’s lead to 14-10.

It was Minnesota’s first offensive touchdown since Nov. 7, a span of 10 quarters.

The Gophers took advantage of another Arnaud fumble — this one at Minnesota’s 40 — to drive 50 yards for a 21-yard field goal by Ellestad, trimming the deficit to 14-13 after three quarters.

Minnesota had trailed in all six of its regular-season wins, and four times rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to win.

The Gophers seemed poised for another comeback when they marched to Iowa State’s 17 with 4 minutes to play. But backup quarterback MarQueis Gray, inserted as a running threat, fumbled on a keeper, and Iowa State’s Ter’ran Benton recovered.

The Cyclones ran out the clock, with Arnaud and Robinson each rushing for first downs