Death, taxes, and an Oklahoma State versus Iowa State game going down to the wire. Nine out of the last ten matchups between the Cyclones and Cowboys have been decided by seven or fewer points. Surprisingly tonight it was Iowa State’s passing game leading them to a 34-27 victory.
“I thought Rocco (Becht) played an incredible game with his efficiency and the way he threw the football,” coach Matt Campbell said. “I thought Daniel Jackson was incredible and obviously it was huge to get Jaylin (Noel) back for us…hopefully today will help us move forward.”
The passing game which had been decent up to this point, won the game for the Cyclones tonight. Becht finished the game throwing for 348 yards on 27 of 38 passing with three touchdowns. Being patient and seeing the field despite pressure closing in speaks to the leadership and confidence Becht has. Like Coach stated, having guys like Jackson and Noel out there makes it easier on the young quarterback.
“Going by the numbers, I felt like I played a really good game, but honestly there is a lot of stuff out there that could be better,” Becht said.
Noel ended with 146 yards receiving and one touchdown on eight catches. Jackson who has been injured most of his time at Iowa State had his best game hauling in six catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite giving up 27 points, the defense was full of fight and fire. Oklahoma State’s offensive line could not keep the front three of Iowa State out of the backfield. Alan Bowman got the start and was constantly under pressure having to escape the pocket and look downfield. The strong pass rush by Jon Heacock’s squad led to Bowman’s two interceptions.
Iowa State wins their first Big 12 Conference game of the season and will improve to 2-2 ahead of a tough road test against the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners next weekend.
FIRST HALF RECAP:
Just like the previous eight matchups between Iowa State and Oklahoma State, these two teams went punch for punch throughout the first half. The Cowboys got things started late in the first quarter going 83 yards on two plays. A 71 yard Ollie Gordon rush led to the Bowman 12 yard QB keeper for the game’s first points.
In classic Cowboy versus Cyclone fashion, Campbell and the offense answered back. Going for it on fourth and short at the Oklahoma State 39 yard line, Becht stood in the pocket and delivered a perfect throw to his wide-open junior captain Noel for a 38 yard touchdown. Becht and Noel would continue their dominance over the Cowboy secondary connecting on a 33 yard pass down the field, which led to Daniel Jackson’s first touchdown reception of the season.
The haymakers continued to be thrown as Oklahoma State responded with a 60 yard pass from Bowman to Jaden Nixon. It took just four plays to drive 75 yards down the field. Heacock’s defense would lock up from there not allowing Mike Gundy’s offense to score again until the final seconds of the half on a 38 yard field goal.
Becht led Iowa State to score on each drive in the second quarter. Staying in the pocket with confidence and poise. The redshirt freshman played the first half like a fifth-year senior, throwing for 223 yards, two touchdowns, and completing 17 of his 25 passes.
Up by three to start the third quarter, Iowa State’s offense came out sluggish with a quick three and out as they tried to attack the Cowboys through the ground game. Oklahoma State came out of the gate pushing upfield threatening to score. That is when the Cyclone secondary which is full of NFL talent came through. Beau Freyler redeemed himself after dropping an interception in the first half. With the help of a pressuring defensive line, Freyler read Bowman’s eyes to perfection picking him off for the first time of the day.
“It was a big relief,” Freyler said. “I try to be a playmaker on this team and for the defense and to make that play at the moment just felt good.”
While the run game continued to struggle, Iowa State went back to the air. It only took two passes for the Cyclones to strike again. First, a 21 yard reception by freshman running back Abu Sama that set up Jackson’s second touchdown catch of the game, this one good for 26 yards.
The punches continued to be thrown and taken by each team as right before the end of the quarter, Oklahoma State cut the lead back down to a one-score game nailing a 53 yard field goal.
The final 15 minutes of action got off to a quick start as Eli Sanders rushed in the Cyclones’ only running touchdown of the game from seven yards out.
“I thought (Sanders) was tremendous,” Campbell said. “It was great to get him back and it will be fun to watch and see where we are at. I think we are a lot closer than farther.”
Iowa State fans know to never get comfortable with any lead against the Cowboys and that was certainly true today. On fourth and short at the Iowa State 44 yard line, Bowman delivered a perfect ball to his receiver Rashod Owens in the left corner of the endzone making it a one-score game.
The Cowboys were able to get the ball back with 2:23 left in the game. Once again, the defensive pressure forced Bowman to make an inaccurate throw that was picked off by TJ Tampa ultimately winning the game.
The passing game is working. Today, it seemed like the offensive game plan allowed Becht to utilize his arm strength. Now, there are still major concerns about the run game. Cartevious Norton left the game early but is expected to be back next week. Despite the injury, there is still a lot to be worried about with the Cyclones only being able to rush for 74 yards and 2.2 yards per carry against the 85th-worst rushing defense in the country. Regardless, this is still a much-needed win for the Cyclones.