AMES — Iowa State sophomore linebacker O’Rien Vance made his first start Saturday against Northern Iowa, a game No. 21 Iowa State won 29-26 in triple-overtime.
The former Cedar Rapids Washington prep started at middle linebacker with Mike Rose moving to an outside linebacker spot.
Vance was tied for the second on the team with eight tackles. He also sacked UNI quarterback Will McElvain twice — Iowa State had three total sacks.
“I said this before the season, I really thought O’Rien had, had maybe his best 15, 16 practices,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “I’ve always been a big O’Rien Vance fan. A year ago, in the spring, he had an incredible spring and kind of got dinged up in the summer and lost his way for a little bit. Then all of the sudden, even in some of our big moments a year ago, he did some great things.
“But it was that consistency, the ability to do the little things consistently that allowed him to have the game he did.”
Campbell said one of the keys for Vance was changing his daily habits.
“He’s changed his life,” Campbell said. “He’s changed who he is — how he sleeps, how he eats, how he approaches things. And what we’ve gotten is the best O’Rien Vance that Iowa State’s seen. He’s earned that right to be in our starting 11. It’s great to have the flexibility because you saw Will (McDonald) in there at times, Chandler Pulvermacher and Mike can move around a lot.”
Vance sacked McElvain on third down in the first overtime to force a UNI field goal.
“I was feeling excited and I was happy we got the play,” Vance said.
Deshaunte Jones’ career day
Receiver Deshaunte Jones had a career day for the Cyclones.
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The senior caught 14 passes for 126 yards. The 14 catches are the second most in a game in Iowa State history.
“Deshaunte Jones becomes, in my mind, the player of the game from an offensive standpoint,” Campbell said. “What he did in the game is what you hope a senior who’s played a lot of football here would do. I’m proud of Deshaunte. He’s taken a leadership role in that room. I think this gives him even more credibility in that leadership role as we continue to move forward.”
Fellow senior La’Micael Pettway, a graduate transfer from Arkansas, was Iowa State’s second most important reciever. He had three catches for 26 yards and two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns came in the second overtime.
“Pettway’s a big, physical player,” Campbell said of his 6-foot-2, 223-pound receiver. “He would tell you he was a little bit raw coming into training camp. He didn’t get spring practice. I think that’s always real hard. ... He’ll continue to have to grow, but I thought he did some great things today.”
Iowa State didn’t come out of the game against UNI unscathed.
Running back Kene Nwangwu left the game with an injury after he gained 30 yards on four carries. Campbell said that his junior running back tweaked something.
Center Colin Newell seemed to suffer a more serious injury in the third overtime. After a catch by Charlie Kolar, Newell was on the ground in pain. As he came off the field, he couldn’t put any weight on one of his legs. Campbell said the play happened too late to give any real update.
One of last season’s starting safeties, Braxton Lewis, didn’t play. Lewis had been dealing with a minor injury during fall camp and Campbell elected to keep him out for the first game. Campbell anticipates Lewis will be ready to play against Iowa on Sept. 14.
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