AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State's new spread offense appears to be a perfect fit for junior running back Alexander Robinson.
Robinson rushed for 127 yards and scored three touchdowns to help Iowa State beat Army 31-10 for its second straight win.
Austen Arnaud added 175 yards passing and two TD tosses -- both to Robinson -- for the Cyclones (3-1), who have surpassed their two-win total from 2008. They've done so in large part because of the emergence of Robinson, who has taken advantage of the space afforded by the Cyclones' spread offense by rushing for at least 100 yards in three straight games.
Robinson caught a 2-yard TD pass and ran for a 68-yard touchdown to help put Iowa State up 17-3 late in the first half. The Cyclones allowed the Black Knights to pull within 17-10 just before halftime, but shut them out in the second half.
"I think he's got a chance in this system, and with what his physical attributes are, to be a very good back," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said of Robinson. "This offense is still in its infantile stages, and I think everybody, including him, are starting to get it more."
Ali Villanueva had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown to lead Army (2-2), which played much of the game without starting quarterback Trent Steelman. He sustained an undisclosed injury in the first half that Army coach Rich Ellerson said wasn't serious.
The Black Knights held the ball for nearly 35 minutes but went just 3 of 16 on third down.
"We squandered a couple of possessions not quite knowing what we're going into, and that's disappointing. That's frustrating," Ellerson said.
Iowa State pushed its lead to 24-10 early in the third quarter behind a pair of great plays from Arnaud. He found Marquis Hamilton for a 35-yard reception on the sidelines, then broke a tackle in the backfield, dashed up the middle and pushed his way into the end zone.
Robinson added a 32-yard TD reception with 5:44 left.
"(Robinson) is kind of carrying this tandem right now," Arnaud said. "I need to step my game up, because he's playing great."
Iowa State jumped ahead 10-3 midway through the second quarter as Robinson took a shovel pass two yards for a touchdown. He pushed the Cyclones' lead to 17-3 the next time he touched the ball.
Robinson found a seam on the weak side and broke free, hopping over Army defensive back Mario Hill's outstretched hands and high-stepping into the end zone for a 68-yard score, the longest of his career.
Robinson became the first Iowa State player with a rushing and a receiving touchdown in the same game since Lane Danielsen pulled it off against Texas in 2003, and added 51 yards receiving. He strained his groin late in the fourth quarter, but Rhoads said that he'll be O.K.
Army's highlight came with just 13 seconds left in the first half. The Black Knights tried the same thing on three straight plays -- a pass in the corner of the end zone to the 6-foot-10 Villanueva, who was matched up against 5-foot-9 Iowa State corner Kennard Banks. Villanueva's 5-yard TD grab brought the Black Knights within 17-10 at the half.
Cyclones defensive end Rashawn Parker injured his left knee in the first quarter. He was carted off the field and did not return, and Rhoads said Parker will be evaluated Sunday.
This was Army's first trip to Ames, and the Cyclones welcomed the Black Knights with open arms. Two members of the SOF Warriors, a special operations parachute team, jumped out of a helicopter and landed near the 50-yard line about 75 minutes before kickoff, and four Black Hawk choppers performed a fly-by before the game.
Iowa State's resurgent defense didn't extend the hospitality. The Cyclones have held three of their four opponents to 17 points or less -- after allowing 35.8 points per game in 2008.
"Everybody is coming together. We're starting to understand what we need to do to win now," Banks said.
The Cyclones also held onto the ball for the first time this season. Iowa State entered play with 12 turnovers, the highest total in the nation, but it was turnover-free against the Black Knights.
"We've got a long way to go still. We haven't emerged as this or that right now. We've emerged as a team that's improving and starting to get it a little bit," Rhoads said.
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