LAWRENCE, Kan. — Iowa State did what good teams are supposed to do against lesser competition Saturday.
The Cyclones beat Kansas 27-3 and handled the Jayhawks in every facet of the game. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but the outcome was never in question, thanks in part to receiver Hakeem Butler’s two early touchdowns.
Butler’s first two catches were both 50-plus-yard touchdowns. The first was an 81-yarder.
“Give credit to Hakeem,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “I think he has certainly been a guy that, when we’ve needed him the most this season, he’s stepped up and made big plays. He’s really straining to be the most consistent player he can be.”
Quarterback Brock Purdy broke Iowa State’s freshman passing touchdown record in the first half. Purdy has 12 passing touchdowns with at least four games left. The record was held by Bret Meyer, who threw 10 his freshman season.
Purdy played most of the game but was taken out in the fourth quarter when Campbell elected to put in Kyle Kempt and the second unit to get game snaps. But in those three-plus quarters, Purdy completed 16 of his 22 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed eight times for 53 yards before the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, Purdy was sacked twice, which pushed his total down to 27 yards on the ground.
“I thought Brock, especially in the first three quarters, the poise of seeing the field, when things break down, I think that’s the one thing Brock gives you — when things break down, he’s got the ability to use his legs to make really positive things happen,” Campbell said. “I thought really great accuracy early in the football game, especially getting the football where it needed to get to. And, again, in the third, late in the third, early in the fourth, I think it just kind of got cloudy a little bit.
“They started to do a couple different things and our ability to adjust both as coaches and players have to continue to get better. But, man, I thought his performance continues to really be impressive for a young guy.”
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While Iowa State (5-3, 4-2 Big 12) dominated, the Cyclones weren’t perfect. Campbell’s offense was stagnant in the second half. The role was reversed for the defense.
The Cyclones uncharacteristically missed some tackles in the first half. But in the second half, they tightened up.
Even though it was sloppy at times, Iowa State still didn’t allow a touchdown.
“It was great to see the leadership of our football team on that side of the ball step up, and in some really critical moments, make some big plays,” Campbell said. “Which is a credit to coach and a leadership in that locker room.”
Twice in the final minutes of the game, Kansas (3-6, 1-5) threatened to score touchdowns, reaching inside the 5-yard line twice. But both times, the defense forced a turnover on downs.
“I think there is a lot of confidence there,” Campbell said. “Great teams have the ability to win both sides of the ball down inside the red zone. Right now, our ability to stop the run was powerful down there. We were able to do that and force passing situations and sometimes it’s tight quarters down there to be able to throw the football. We’re continuing to gain confidence in what we do, especially in situations like that.”
Defensive end Matt Leo said the defense had too much pride to let Kansas score a touchdown late in the game when it hadn’t allowed one all game.
“Getting into the red zone, we feel like we shouldn’t have even allowed it to happen,” Leo said. “... Letting them score (a touchdown), we just weren’t going to let them have that this game.”
Campbell said Saturday’s game was probably the most complete game Iowa State has played this season.
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“The sense of urgency was high this week,” Campbell said. “It was great to watch the response, not only by our coaches and our kids but everybody together. I thought you saw a huge step forward in continuing to grow.”
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