After thrashing Texas Tech last week, Iowa State went back into Jack Trice Stadium tonight and met a tougher opponent in West Virginia. The Cyclones kept the game close at the half (21-16 at the break), but WVU dominated the second half en route to a 49-19 victory. With the loss, Iowa State finishes the season with a 3-9 overall record in Matt Campbell’s first season as head coach.
The story of this game was penalties, the inability of the Cyclone offense to finish drives, and turnovers. ISU racked up 85 penalty yards on the day and didn’t score a single TD on offense, despite making it into WVU territory on all but one of their possessions. The lone Iowa State touchdown came on an electrifying kick return from Kene Nwangwu in the first half.
Here's that 97 yard kickoff return TD by Kene Nwangwu to put ISU within 4! https://t.co/WzKc32iynU— Cyclone Football (@CycloneFB) November 26, 2016
Altogether, ISU had four turnovers, with Jacob Park throwing an INT that went through the hands of Marchie Murdock late in the 4th quarter. The other three TO’s came via fumbles — one from Park, one from Mike Warren, and one from David Montgomery. Montgomery’s was especially deflating, as it came after a 46-yard run where he reversed field, brushed off a couple defenders and rumbled down the sideline before having it stripped just 12 yards away from the goal line.
Despite these bad happenings, there were a few bright spots today. Outgoing senior kicker Cole Netten had a nice swan song, connecting on 4/4 field goals with a long of 40 on the day. Also, even though he had a fumble, David Montgomery amassed 186 total yards of offense and showed off his combination of bruising and light-footed style of running. Finally, Park threw for 371 yards in the final game of his sophomore season. It wasn’t Park’s best game accuracy-wise (23/44 final line), but he will hopefully only get better going forward.
One question many Cyclone fans will wonder is why quarterback Joel Lanning got so little playing time after his big game last week. Lanning only made it into the game on one play, crossing the goal line for a touchdown run only to have it get called back on a questionable chop block penalty. That was the only time he was inserted into the game all day.
For the Mountaineers, QB Skyler Howard only completed 12 passes, but made all of them count as he racked up 330 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Running back Martell Pettaway couldn’t be stopped by the Iowa State defense as he barrelled his way to 181 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Today was certainly a letdown after what transpired last week, but this doesn’t make me any less optimistic heading into 2017. A great recruiting class, tons of young and talented players in the program, and getting guys like Jake Campos back on the field will lead to some fun games in the future. Another offseason under Matt Campbell means more learning, growing, and preparing to take Iowa State to the next level.
See you in the spring, Cyclone football.