116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AMES — Iowa State first-year starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers shined as usual in the passing game. His top target, Xavier Hutchinson, posted big numbers yet again. And the Cyclones cruised to a 43-10 win Saturday over outmanned Ohio at Jack Trice Stadium while simultaneously proving why their head coach, Matt Campbell, often refers to football as “a game of imperfection.”
Boy, was it ever.
ISU coughed up a red-zone fumble and saw an extra point blocked — and that was just before trotting into halftime with a 30-3 lead.
But the Cyclones (3-0) also forced four turnovers, Dekkers completed 28 of 36 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns, and Hutchinson caught one of them while amassing at least 93 receiving yards for the sixth time in the past seven regular-season games.
“I was probably irate at halftime just because you're up 30-3 and your eyes see all the things that (are) going to cost us when we need it the most,” Campbell said. “And if we don't clean those things up, then we could be happy being 3-0. I’m not. I still feel like there's so much proof of who we can be and what we need to become if we're willing to get there.”
Dekkers was sacked twice in a row on one second-half drive, but otherwise was well-protected while boosting his career touchdown-to-interception ratio to 11-to-4. His three touchdown passes went to Hutchinson, Sean Shaw Jr. and DeShawn Hanika, so he continued to connect with a diverse range of targets.
“There are some high-end highs and there are some lows that we’ve got to get figured out,” Campbell said. “The ball-security piece of it is something we’ve got to continue to strain to work on and yet there’s some critical plays that he makes in the football game that we’re not the team we’ve got the ability to be if he doesn’t make those plays.”
Senior linebacker O’Rien Vance’s strip-sack in the second quarter produced a fumble that defensive end MJ Anderson recovered. Senior safety Anthony Johnson rose up for a sprawling first-half interception — the first of his career — and graduate transfer linebacker Colby Reeder picked off his second pass in as many weeks, returning it to the Bobcats’ 9-yard line. Defensive lineman Joey Petersen forced a fourth-quarter fumble that Hunter Zenzen recovered at the Ohio 12-yard line. Jace Gilbert subsequently capped ISU’s scoring with a 21-yard field goal with 8:14 left, sending swaths of what remained of the announced crowd of 58,138 shuffling toward the exits.
Add Will McDonald’s program record-extending 30th sack, and a recipe for ongoing success emerges, even if some of the ingredients somewhat soured the mix.
“I’m just blessed to have the ability to do all of that,” said McDonald, who notched his first sack of the season.
So a lot of good co-existed with a sprinkling of bad for ISU, which is 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2012 and begins Big 12 play next Saturday against defending conference champion Baylor (2-1) at home.
“It’s every week like this,” Shaw said. “Just because it’s Big 12 play, we’re not looking at it any different. We’re treating every week the same and it’s gonna stay that way.”