GLENDALE, Ariz. — As Brock Purdy was pressured in the pocket, he tried to escape left, hit an offensive lineman and reversed course. With Oregon’s All-America defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux barreling down on him, Purdy dove for the first-down marker.
On third-and-8 in the fourth quarter of Purdy’s homecoming and Iowa State’s first-ever New Year’s Six bowl game, the junior quarterback got the first down and kept the drive alive thanks to his diving effort.
“On a third down like that, they really had everything covered,” Purdy said. “I felt some pressure, and what was going through my mind at that point was, all right, try to use your legs, make a play out of this, and just get out of all the traffic that I was in with the offensive line at the time. So when I broke outside and I saw space, I was trying to look for a receiver to throw to, but I saw space in front of me.
“I saw Kayvon Thibodeaux coming. And at that point, I was going to do everything it took to get the first down and keep the drive alive.”
Iowa State ended the possession with a field goal to essentially ice the game away.
“I was just trying to do my job, not anything else other than that,” Purdy said.
No. 10 Iowa State beat No. 25 Oregon on Saturday in the Fiesta Bowl, 34-17 on the grit, effort and play-making ability of Purdy.
With the win, Iowa State tied its best ever season (2000) with a 9-3 record.
“I don’t know if I have enough words to say about Brock,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “When I watched that play, that will be the play I take with me for the rest of my life. Him straining in a critical moment to get the first down when all odds were against him — that’s Brock Purdy.
“Brock Purdy from game one and day one — he’s given us a chance to be successful. Without Brock Purdy there’s no Fiesta Bowl, there’s no Iowa State. We are who we are because of the leadership, character and humility of Brock Purdy.”
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Purdy, the Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP, didn’t have a gaudy game but he was efficient and made plays when he needed to. The Gilbert, Ariz., native completed 20 of 29 passes for 156 and a touchdown. He also rushed nine times for 39 yards and a score.
When Purdy makes plays like the one he did in the fourth quarter, it fires the whole team up to see its quarterback lay it out on the line.
“You know, Brock’s crazy,” running back Breece Hall said. “It doesn’t surprise me that Brock would do some fantastic stuff like that. That just shows how much of a competitor he is and shows what he’s willing to do for this team.
“Just for him to take hits, nose dive for a first down. And for him just to escape, just do all that crazy stuff, that just shows — I mean, that’s Brock. Nobody really does it like him. So, I mean, I’m happy he’s on my team. I wouldn’t want to go against him.”
It’s that leadership by example on the field of play that inspires others around Purdy to take the extra step. Purdy’s faith in himself and his teammates to make plays gives them confidence that they can as well.
Hall had 136 yards and two touchdowns, tight end Charlie Kolar had five catches for 53 yards and a touchdown and receiver Xavier Hutchinson had four catches for 45 yards.
“What I admire about Brock and Brock has made everybody in our program better because of his faith, who he is and who he’s become and how he’s always standing firm in his faith,” Campbell said. “And I think, when you demand to stand firm in your faith and what you believe in, then great things happen to you.
“And you know what? I couldn’t think of a greater way for Brock to end his junior year, and I couldn’t think of a greater way for this football team to etch its name in the history books of Iowa State football than for Brock Purdy to come home and to win the Fiesta Bowl and be the offensive MVP. I’m so happy for him.
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“Without Brock Purdy there’s no Fiesta Bowl, there’s no Iowa State. We are who we are because of the leadership, character and humility of Brock Purdy.”
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