116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — When Iowa State head football coach Matt Campbell needed a halftime message for his team during Saturday’s 10-7 Cy-Hawk win over Iowa, he dug out a dugout-based story from the summer.
The Cyclones — who snapped a six-game losing streak in the series at Kinnick Stadium — trailed the Hawkeyes, 7-3, at the time and could point to an array of glaring mistakes to arrive at a reason why.
No matter. Thirty minutes of football remained, so Campbell issued a challenge based on his other coaching experience.
“I’m gonna let you guys in on a good story,” said Campbell, who beat Iowa for the first time in six meetings at ISU. “Now you guys know I coached girls’ softball, sixth-grade girls’ softball (for Gilbert) this summer. So we got to the championship game and we had to play over at Roland-Story.”
Campbell’s team was down, 4-2, after three innings.
Tension pervaded the dugout.
Chants from the opposition highlighted the seriousness of the situation, but the Gilbert sixth-grade girls’ softball team found a way to rally and win — just as Campbell’s Cyclones did as sheets of rain soaked Kinnick Stadium.
“I said if our sixth-grade girls can do this against Roland-Story for a championship, you guys can get this thing figured out in the second half,” Campbell said. “So there’s my inspiration. That’s what got us the win. Sixth-grade Gilbert girls’ softball, guys.”
Sure, Campbell spoke with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, but why not roll that story out to loosen up and prod his team to a long-awaited victory?
The Cyclones (2-0) had tried just about everything to snap a stubborn skid against the Hawkeyes (1-1), but always found ways to doom themselves to defeat.
That almost happened again Saturday when ISU turned the ball over twice in the end zone and saw two punts blocked in the red zone. But for the first time in the Campbell era, the Cyclones forced an Iowa turnover — and make that three, including one in the end zone that preceded a historic Hunter Dekkers-engineered 21-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that proved to be the difference in the game.
It was, in essence, a home run that somehow lasted 11 minutes and 49 seconds and ended in Dekkers’ 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who had listened as Campbell playfully shared his softball coaching story at halftime.
“That was his halftime speech to us,” said Hutchinson, who made three third-down grabs on his team’s lone touchdown drive. “He said his sixth-grade team was down and they came back.”
Call it an apt apples-and-oranges comparison, then, but forget about balls and strikes: No matter how many missed calls or assignments there were on Saturday, the Cyclones finally found a way to win against Iowa for the first time since 2014. And now the Cy-Hawk trophy is back in Ames.
“It feels terrific,” Hutchinson said. “I hope the Cyclone fans are happy and hopefully we start our own streak here come soon.”
Whether that happens or not, they’ll have plenty to draw inspiration from this season, including Campbell’s story and the 99-yard drive that came when it was needed the most.
“I think that just shows the type of offense we can be,” said Dekkers, who went 25-for-38 for 184 yards, the one touchdown and two interceptions in his first Cy-Hawk start and win. “We can play fast and we can play slow like we did on that drive.”