Editor’s note: Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, The Gazette has decided to limit its staffing at road games. Ben Visser covered today’s game via television, radio and Zoom news conferences.
AMES — Iowa State had never begun the conference portion of its schedule 4-0.
On Saturday in Stillwater, Okla., the No. 17 Cyclones couldn’t make history, losing to No. 6 Oklahoma State 24-21.
Iowa State (3-2, 3-1) had chances but was unable to capitalize on them.
Kicker Connor Assalley missed both of his field goal attempts — one from 48 yards in the first quarter and another from 33 yards in the second quarter. The 33-yard attempt hit off the right upright.
Another opportunity came in the fourth quarter with the Cyclones down seven. Quarterback Brock Purdy threw an accurate ball to tight end Charlie Kolar, who was wide open with room to run. The ball hit the normally sure-handed Kolar in the chest and fell harmlessly to the ground.
Iowa State went three-and-out and was forced to punt. Oklahoma State took advantage and kicked a field goal, which ended up being the difference in the game.
“For us, there were inches that were left out there and when you leave inches out there, you get beat 24-21,” Coach Matt Campbell said on the Cyclone Radio Network. “We have a really good football team, our guys played really hard but hard isn’t good enough against a great team. We have the ability to be a great team but we have to figure out how to win the inches.”
The defenses reigned throughout the game. Each defense held the opposing offense to worse than 38 percent on third down, had at least seven tackles for loss and kept the playmakers in check.
Purdy completed just 19 of his 34 attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders was back in action after missing the Cowboys’ last two games with an injury. He was more efficient than Purdy, completing 20 of 29 for 235 yards and a touchdown. Iowa State was able to intercept two Sanders passes, which the Cyclone offense was able to capitalize off of and score touchdowns.
The bright spot for Iowa State’s offense was once against running back Breece Hall. The sophomore rushed for a career-high 185 yards and a touchdown.
Hall’s stat line was bolstered by a 70-yard run and a 66-yard touchdown run. Without those runs, he averaged just 2.7 yards per carry, which is a product of Oklahoma State’s defensive front seven.
The Cowboys’ front seven disrupted Iowa State’s offense throughout the day. Beyond limiting Hall — besides the two big runs — they also put constant pressure on Purdy.
Purdy was sacked three times and was hurried four times.
“The word ‘fight’ can be identified in our kids,” Campbell said. “Our kids will fight and they’ll fight for 60 minutes. The consistency and ebb and flow of the game — we never had the ability to tackle it in any of the phases of the game. That part was really hard for us. Guys like Breece were able to make big plays and that was positive for us.”
With the constant pressure Purdy was under, he was forced to target his safety net receivers, almost exclusively.
Only four Iowa State players caught passes. Xavier Hutchinson caught eight passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, Kolar had five catches for 58 yards, Hall had four catches for 8 yards and Chase Allen tallied two catches for 32 yards.
Hutchinson’s touchdown came in the last minute of the game when Iowa State was trying to mount a late comeback. Iowa State was unable to recover the subsequent onside kick and Oklahoma State kneeled out the clock.
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“This game is early in the season,” Campbell said. “We have to define who we want to be and what we want to do. That comes with growth. You can grow if you take the lessons from it and then you have a chance to reach your full potential. If you don’t, then it can be a real challenge because we know that it doesn’t matter who it is or where it is, if you’re not playing the way you’re capable of playing, you’re going to get beat.”