Rocco Becht passed for 113 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score to lead host Iowa State past Northern Iowa 30-9 on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, in the season opener for both teams.
A redshirt freshman seeing extensive action as an ongoing state investigation into illegal sports gambling impacts the Cyclones' roster, Becht's steady play augmented solid contributions from the defense and special teams.
Iowa State (1-0) scored its first points of the season when Jeremiah Cooper returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown just 2:15 into the game.
Iowa State limited Panthers quarterback Theo Day throughout the afternoon. Day finished 16-of-34 passing for 164 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked five times. Northern Iowa (0-1) outgained Iowa State 279-250.
Becht's 1-yard scoring run with 1:21 left in the first quarter put the Cyclones ahead 14-0.
After the next three Iowa State possessions ended with three-and-outs, Becht steered a six-play, 71-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a 14-yard scoring pass to Tyler Moore.
Chase Contreraz connected for a 56-yard field goal as time expired on the second quarter to give the Cyclones a 23-0 lead at halftime. On the previous play, Cooper picked off Day for the second time and returned it 30 yards to the Panthers' 38-yard line.
The Cyclones all but put things away on the opening possession of the third quarter, as Becht found Benjamin Brahmer for a 36-yard TD.
Northern Iowa got on the board with 8:03 remaining in the third quarter, as Matthew Cook kicked a 31-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 61-yard drive that consumed 5:05 of clock time.
The Panthers closed the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Day to Desmond Hutson with 11:30 to go in the game.
Cartevious Norton led Iowa State with 11 carries for 49 yards. Tye Edwards rushed 16 times for 72 yards for the Panthers.
Iowa State leads the all-time series with Northern Iowa 17-10. The Cyclones boast a four-game winning streak, with Saturday marking the most lopsided outcome in that span.
Panthers coach Mark Farley remained at 174 career victories.
—Field Level Media