116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers spoke softly, relying on an economy of words.
There simply wasn’t much to say in the wake of the Cyclones’ strange, sloppy and mistake-strewn 14-11 loss to Kansas before a sellout crowd of 47,233 at Memorial Stadium.
“They just did a good job of mixing things up with some different blitzes,” said Dekkers, who was sacked five times as ISU dropped to 3-2 overall and 0-2 in Big 12 play. “We’ve got a lot of things to clean up on offense. If we do that, we’ll be just fine.”
That’s a big “if.”
Especially if special teams woes continue to bedevil the Cyclones as they did on Saturday.
True freshman kicker Jace Gilbert missed three field goals — with two caroming off the uprights. One errant kick, a 38-yard try with 32 seconds left, could have tied the game, but it wasn’t close.
ISU faced a fourth-and-1 situation at the time and Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell chose to try to extend the game into overtime rather than risking a turnover on downs.
“Can you always question yourself?” Campbell asked rhetorically after the game. “You’re always going to say, man, was that the right call — especially when it doesn’t go good. But again, my gut said win the game in overtime. You’re playing great defense and put yourself in the best position to win the game. Did we do that today? We didn’t.”
ISU’s defense held Kansas’ high-powered offense scoreless in the second half and collected a critical turnover when senior linebacker O’Rien Vance forced and recovered a fumble at the Cyclones’ 42-yard line with 9:20 left.
But the offense was forced to punt and continued to struggle before finally mounting the last-gasp comeback drive that ended in Gilbert’s third missed field goal.
Thousands of fans streamed onto the field after Kansas kneeled out the win despite eking out just 213 yards and 10 first downs while running a staggering 32 fewer plays than ISU.
The Jayhawks entered the game averaging 48.5 points per game, which ranked fourth nationally, so opportunities abounded for the Cyclones because of a stingy defensive effort.
“We just didn’t capitalize, plain and simple,” said ISU receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who caught 13 passes for 101 yards, including a 4-yard grab that set up Campbell’s difficult decision at the end of the game. “We have to be better and I know we can be better. We just have to get back to the drawing board next week, figure out everything, fine-tune everything and get better.”
Dekkers completed 30 of 48 passes for 287 yards, one touchdown and one red-zone interception that turned into the Jayhawks’ second touchdown.
The Cyclones’ running game was rendered almost non-existent after top tailback Jirehl Brock left the game early with an ankle injury that came after his lone carry — an 8-yard gain.
“I got hit,” said Brock, who has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and scored three touchdowns this season. “We’ll get back to Ames and see what exactly is wrong.”
That’s true when it comes to his ankle. It’s also true team-wide as ISU seeks to rebound from its first 0-2 start to Big 12 play since 2016 next week against No. 25 Kansas State.
“We’ve just got to execute,” Dekkers said. “It’s the name of the game.”