AMES — Iowa State tight end Charlie Kolar has a running joke with the media about how long Landen Akers has been at Iowa State.
Two weeks ago, Kolar said Akers has been in Ames for 12 years. On Saturday after No. 9 Iowa State’s 42-6 win against West Virginia, Kolar joked Akers has been at the school for 15 years.
The truth is he’s been a Cyclone for six. He gray-shirted his initial season, then redshirted and now, over the past few seasons, he’s getting playing time.
But he had never caught a touchdown.
On Saturday, Akers finally caught his first career touchdown pass on a play that looked like it was designed specifically for him to score. Coach Matt Campbell denied that it was designed for Akers and said it was a play designed to score at a critical time.
Quarterback Brock Purdy called it the “Landen play.”
“It’s funny, we got the play call and the receivers and everybody around (receivers) coach (Nate) Scheelhaase were going crazy because they knew the Landen play was coming up. We had practiced it and I was just praying that I could throw it accurately and I knew he’d be there and he was.”
As soon as Akers caught it, the whole offense went to celebrate with the Cedar Rapids Washington grad.
“To celebrate with him and have the whole team ready for him when he came jogging off the field, it was special,” Purdy said. “It was sweet. He doesn’t always get the credit but he deserves it.”
Kolar was the first one to greet Akers, who actually slipped on the concrete because his momentum took him off the field.
“That was my favorite score of my whole career,” Kolar said. “I was in his corner of the end zone when he scored on that play and I went to go jump on him and he slipped on the concrete. It was incredible.
“If you saw the way our sideline celebrated and the way everyone celebrated, that’s a testament to Landen and his character. He’s a guy who’s sacrificed and is in his 15th year here and he’s sacrificed for all of those years here. He’s on special teams, he does the dirty work, blocking, being behind guys on the depth chart. For him to keep pounding and to have the effect on the game that he does, to find the end zone, it was just incredible. I’ve never been happier for a guy to score. He deserves every bit of the credit he gets. He’s an incredible player and incredible teammate.”
Akers went 2,206 days between touchdowns — his last one was when he was still at Cedar Rapids Washington against West Des Moines Dowling in the Class 4A state championship game on Nov. 14, 2014.
Brock Purdy stays hot
Purdy has been on a tear since the second half of the Baylor game on Nov. 7.
On Saturday, Purdy kept it rolling.
The junior completed 20 of his 23 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 38 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
“Elite. He’s been incredible down the stretch,” Campbell said. “It’s what you expect from a junior who has played a lot of football here and who is maybe one of the great leaders of all-time in the history of this school. He has played close to how he’s capable of playing in every game down the stretch. It’s been really fun to watch him and he’s really special.”
Senior night success
Iowa State seniors (probably) played their last game at Jack Trice Stadium — they do have the option of coming back next season thanks to an NCAA rule in this pandemic year.
The group played well. Akers got a touchdown, tight end Chase Allen had 36 yards receiving and running back Kene Nwangwu had nine rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, linebacker Jake Hummel had eight tackles, safety Greg Eisworth tallied six tackles and two pass breakups and defensive end JaQuan Bailey totaled four tackles and a sack.
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“It was really special,” Campbell said. “But I’ll also say, how is that any different than any other game we’ve played this fall? In a lot of ways that’s what this senior class has done. They’ve demanded excellence. They’ve demanded greatness. And they’ve demanded that we stay the course. The biggest plays and the biggest moments have some from so many of those guys. It’s really rewarding to finish the regular season the way we did at home and with those guys doing what they’ve done all year long for this team and program.”
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