Iowa State Cyclones

Mistakes cost Iowa State in Alamo Bowl loss to Washington State

Cyclones come up just short, 28-26

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a second targeting penalty on ISU in the second quarter of Friday’s Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after a second targeting penalty on ISU in the second quarter of Friday’s Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — No. 24 Iowa State was done in by its own mistakes in the Alamo Bowl against No. 13 Washington State on Friday inside the Alamodome.

Iowa State’s offense twice turned the ball over on its side of the field, giving the Cougars a short field to work with that resulted in easy touchdowns.

The Cyclones’ offensive line was also called for seven false starts, almost all coming in critical situations. After the game, Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said redshirt freshman center Collin Newell was having a hard time with the cadence.

“I really think the noise was a major factor, and especially for our young center, who has played really good football for us,” Campbell said. “I put that as much on me as anybody. Do we need to have a different cadence? We tried to do some different things to help him out throughout the game, but it certainly got really loud in there at times, so I think just handling the environment more than anything. We’ve got to do a better job, and that’s really on the head football coach.”

One false start came when Iowa State was attempting a potential game-tying 2-point conversion with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter after Brock Purdy’s 1-yard touchdown run. Iowa State was unable to convert from the 8 and lost the game 28-26.

“Obviously our young center struggled at times tonight in terms of hearing the cadence, and that’s unfortunate,” Campbell said. “We thought we had a really good play. There were multiple options that would have been a part of it and thought we had the perfect play called. Those things happen. We went back then and had a couple options on the next play, as well, and just weren’t able to execute in a critical moment.”

On top of the mistakes the offense made, two Iowa State (8-5) players were ejected for targeting in the first half.

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First was linebacker Willie Harvey early in the second quarter when tackled a scrambling Minshew with helmet-to-helmet contact. Harvey’s ejection ended the four-year starter and fifth-year senior’s collegiate career.

The second targeting penalty was called on defensive end Enyi Uwazurike. Uwazurike’s came on a sack late in the second quarter. It originally wasn’t called, but after Washington State (11-2) called a timeout, the play was reviewed and ruled targeting. Campbell was so upset with the officials about the second targeting call that he ended received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Washington State scored a touchdown three plays later to go up 21-7.

“I didn’t (get an explanation), and I guess that’s where a little bit of my frustration was, that there wasn’t any communication with that,” Campbell said. “It’s a crazy environment. The officiating crew has got a lot going on so I get that and I understand that. My frustration during the football game was just getting an explanation. Now, should I be better than that? Yes. But I really didn’t get any explanation in those unfortunate situations.

“What I was really proud of, though, is our kids’ tremendous ability to overcome the loss of two what you would say would be very good football players for us this year.”

Outside of the mistakes, which cost Iowa State the game, the Cyclones played well, especially the defense after two important pieces were ejected. Washington State had just one scoring drive that wasn’t less than 30 yards or less or the result of a targeting call followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct call, two 15-yard penalties.

Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock’s defense held the FBS’ most prolific passing offense to 299 yards and 28 rushing yards. The Cyclones held the Cougars 10 points below their scoring average and 135 yards below their total offense average.

The Iowa State defense had five drives that were just three plays.

Iowa State’s offensive stars played like stars.

Running back David Montgomery finished with 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. He also had four receptions for 55 yards.

Receiver Hakeem Butler made big play after big play. He finished with an Alamo Bowl record of 192 yards on nine catches.

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“With their corners, the way they played and the safeties and things like that, we studied them a lot,” Butler said. “We had a long time before we had to play them, so we got to understand them really well, and we just saw some things that we really liked and just attacked at will.”

Purdy started the night 1-for-4 passing with two interceptions. He bounced back by going 17-for-23 for 315 yards. He also rushed for 46 yards and two touchdowns.

“I didn’t think Brock was even bad early,” Campbell said. “I think he made the right reads, and it just — a couple unfortunate situations, their guy made a great play on the ball and just some situations that were what they were, but it’s what I love about Brock, his moxie and his consistency and it’s great to have guys like Hakeem and David to get the ball to. Those guys made some great plays on the ball. But I think what he has the ability to do is play the next play, and it’s what makes Brock Purdy really special.

“I thought he did a lot of things in a really powerful way tonight that continue to show his growth. It’ll be really fun to watch him and get him into the winter and watch him continue to grow.”

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