116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Sean Shaw Jr. ran his route, looked up, and clamped down on the throw from his quarterback, Hunter Dekkers.
Iowa State’s oft-injured, but highly-talented senior receiver then took a few swift steps and leaped as he twisted into the end zone for his first touchdown catch of the season in the Cyclones’ 43-10 trouncing of Ohio at Jack Trice Stadium.
“That was pretty sweet, wasn’t it?” Shaw asked rhetorically while reliving his 15-yard touchdown that converted a fourth-and-2 situation and gave ISU (3-0) a 30-3 halftime lead.
“It’s Hunter giving me a chance and I saw it was open, and I went for it.”
Shaw’s touchdown matched his total scored in each of the past two injury-plagued seasons. Fellow senior and two-time first team All-Big 12 wideout Xavier Hutchinson — who scored his fifth touchdown of the season on Saturday — understandably draws the lion’s share of attention from Dekkers and the Cyclones’ opponents, but a healthy Shaw furnishes ISU with another sure-handed 6-6 target on third and fourth downs, as well as in red-zone situations.
“I think the thing I’m probably lost excited about is you had some other guys step up,” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said. “The play Sean Shaw makes right before half, man, is a huge play. And Sean’s for the first time healthy in three years. He hadn’t even gotten an offseason until this past offseason.”
It showed. Campbell added that he’s now seeing glimpses of the 2019 version of Shaw, when as a redshirt freshman he totaled 15 catches for 231 yards and five touchdowns, which was the third-most touchdowns by a freshman in school history.
“He’s fought through injury and fought through some hard times,” Campbell said. “In all three games (this season) he’s made big, critical plays for us, so I think the thing that’s enjoyable is you’re starting to see a supporting cast.”
If that’s all Shaw is this season, that’s plenty to help the Cyclones continue to churn up wins.
“Being healthy coming (out of) last season and being able to start in January has made a huge difference even just in my confidence,” Shaw said. “I’m not worried about going out here and, ‘Man, I’ve got this bugging me.’ I’m just going out there and having fun and playing again.”
“Ant” notches first career INT
Senior cornerback-turned-safety Anthony Johnson Jr. stretched out, sprang up and did something he’d never done previously in his 44 straight starts for the Cyclones.
He snared an interception. Johnson had forced four fumbles in his career, but picking a pass off had somehow eluded him — in part because most opposing quarterbacks decided not to throw many balls his way.
“I love it,” said fellow senior Will McDonald, who notched his first sack of the season to push his program-record total to 30. “He’s been here for 30 years and it’s his first interception, man. I was proud of him. I’m happy for him.”
Hyperbole aside, it was a long time coming given how well “Ant” has played over four-plus seasons. The three-time honorable mention All-Big 12 selection at cornerback continues to be productive after the offseason position shift.
“I still don’t know if there are many people playing better than Anthony Johnson,” Campbell said.