Opening with the news just under an hour before the kickoff that Greg Eisworth would not be playing was not the start the Cyclones looked for. While most defensive backs have been struggling as of late, he has really picked up where he left off, coming off of a Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of The Year season. Anyway, Iowa State would start on offense, racking up a couple first downs before punting.
The teams would trade punts on the first 3 possessions. However, on West Virginia’s first possession, cornerback Anthony Johnson went full Khalil Mack and got to quarterback Austin Kendall, forcing a fumble, but not being able to recover. This would be very important as that would be the last time Kendall saw the field today, going down with a shoulder injury. The first few possessions made it seem as if the Riot Bowl would be a defensive battle.
Speaking of defense, West Virginia accidentally scored via a pick six by Tykee Smith, which followed two dropped passes by Tarique Milton Kene Nwangu, and Kene Nwangu once again on the turnover. 7-0 Mountaineers.
The Cyclone offense would come out with a new look in the backfield on the next possession, featuring freshman running back Breece Hall.
Breece Hall immediately made a difference. He provided a spark in the run game from a running back that Iowa State has truly lacked this season. Hall would get 3 carries on his first drive gaining 22 yards, and hitting pay dirt from 1 yard out on the first play of the second quarter to top off an 11 play scoring drive, to tie the game 7-7.
Ensuing drive for West Virginia saw 8 quick plays, and 35 yards to show for it, before Mike Rose “started the lawnmower” and forced a fumble, this time recovered by Braxton Lewis.
Now that the defense gained a little momentum, the offense got their chance to make some plays. 11 plays and 65 yards later, Corn Jesus crossed the goal line on a 2 yard run, in a similar pump right and run left play he scored on a week ago.
That scoring drive also featured a very interesting (to say the least) 4th and 2 quarterback sneak that would require a review to determine Purdy got the first down. While from a fan’s perspective that might be a more head scratching play call, I’m sure that’s exactly how Matt Campbell drew that play up. Fake run down the sideline and pretend to call a timeout, then get the first down by maybe a quarter of an inch. Genius.
West Virginia would close the half with an impressive drive cutting through ISU’s defense, converting on three third downs, one on 3rd and 14 might I add. A dropped pick in the end zone by Lawrence White, who took a pretty good lower body shot on the play, would spoil the defenses chance at a turnover before the Mountaineers would eventually score from 9 yards out. 14-14 at the half.
West Virginia would open up the second half not making much noise, but would convert on a 3rd and 14 once again. This time though, the Cyclone defense would get a stop to prevent a Mountaineer score. The next set of downs was where this defense showed us who we thought they were. A one yard gain, a one yard loss, and a 5 yard loss on a sack by up and comer defensive end Zach Petersen.
Coach Campbell and Co. were on their game to start the second half. Breece Hall would carry the ball 3 straight plays (and looking like a man amongst boys while he did it) before Purdy would find Tarique Milton for 28 yards. Oh what’s that? Targeting on West Virginia that would be one of the loudest helmet-to-helmet sounds I’ve ever heard. That would put Iowa State on the 12 yard line, where Breece Hall would once again find his way to the end zone to put the ‘Clones up 21-14.
Juicy Wiggle time? Do they play anything other than Country Roads at Milan Pusker Stadium? Screw it, whenever Iowa State scores Juicy Wiggle plays in our hearts.
The defense stayed stout, and once again forced a punt. While Iowa State punted on their next possession as well, things started to shift the good guys way.
After yet another punt by WVU, the Cyclones were able to put a solid drive together once again, putting it right through Assalley to go up 24-14. Sike! Freshman place kicker Braydon Narveson would get his first attempt as a Cyclone and would connect from 45 yards out.
After a second straight 3 and out forced by The Red Wedding, Iowa State once again capitalized. This time going 62 yards in under four minutes to get into the end zone. This time coming off of a perfectly ran play action play, where Mr. Brocktober found Joseph Scates in the back of the end zone for what would be Scates’ second career catch and first career touchdown.
I know this is getting repetitive, the Whirly Birds defense once again got a stop, this time Braxton Lewis played perfect coverage and made a great jump on a ball to force another pick on this interception. Re-al Mitchell entered for Brock Purdy and showed that he can run once again. It seemed as if whenever he got outside, he got what he wanted, converting on a 4th and 1 play in the drive. Mitchell kept the ball rolling, and Breece Hall made his way into the end zone for the 3rd time today.
The final West Virginia possession would end fittingly for the ISU defense, fumbling and giving the ball right back to Iowa State, who would then kneel the clock out. Roll damn ‘Clones, 38-14 the final.
Your hometown ‘Clones dominated in the second half, giving up just 35 yards and 2 first downs, also forcing 2 turnovers. A defensive shut out is awesome always, but this offense also dominated after the break. Holding the ball for 19 of the 28 second half minutes keeps the defense off the field and the offense on the field to score (simple stuff I know). This was really where the team has struggled, the defense getting tired and the offense unable to gain momentum. Now that Iowa State appears to be in stride, this is the part where it’s fun to be an Iowa State fan.