EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — The margin of victory is getting bigger for Iowa State.
After beating Northern Iowa by a point and rival Iowa by three in three overtimes, the Cyclones had a relatively easy four-point victory at Connecticut on Friday.
Darius Reynolds had 128 yards receiving and two second-half touchdowns to lead Iowa State to a 24-20 win and a 3-0 start for the first time since 2005.
“I don’t think anyone picked us to win three,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “Confidence continues to build as we find ways to win football games.”
The Cyclones overcame a 10-0 UConn lead and a slow start from quarterback Steele Jantz, who threw interceptions on three of his first four passes.
Jantz, who threw four touchdown passes last week against rival Iowa, completed 18 of 29 for 200 yards on Friday. His 20-yard touchdown pass to Reynolds with just over 9 minutes to play provided the winning margin.
Reynolds had given the Cyclones their first lead at 14-10 on a trick play when receiver Josh Lenz took a pitch from running back James White, rolled left and found the senior wide open behind the defense for a 40-yard score with just over 11 minutes left in the third quarter.
“We just kept saying, ‘We got this,’” Lenz said. “We just kept our heads up.”
Scott McCummings, one of UConn’s three quarterbacks, ran for a touchdown and threw for another for the Huskies (1-2) and receiver Isiah Moore caught eight passes for 143 yards, but also had a key fumble to stop a third-quarter drive.
UConn drove the ball into Iowa State territory twice in the final two minutes, but quarterback Johnny McEntee’s desperation heave on the game’s final play fell incomplete.
“It hurts way more than a blowout because you know you have a chance to win and then you let it slip away,” Isiah Moore said.
Kashif Moore had given UConn a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter when he outleaped cornerback Jeremy Reeves on play-action pass from McCummings then sprinted down the left sideline for a 39-yard touchdown.
It was McCummings’ only completion on three attempts.
But Jantz led the Cyclones on a 65-yard drive for the winning score.
Lentz made a diving 19-yard catch at the UConn 20, before Reynolds caught the ball over the middle, then hurdled UConn defensive backs Jerome Junior and Blidi Wreh-Wilson on his way to the end zone.
Iowa State now has a week off before hosting the Texas Longhorns in Ames.