AMES — When Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy jogged onto the field on fourth-and-goal with 1:16 left Saturday and the Cyclones leading by just a field goal against Kansas, he had flashbacks to the failed 2-point conversion attempt against Oklahoma.
He was determined to make the play this time and he did.
No. 22 Iowa State beat Kansas 41-31 on Purdy’s game-sealing touchdown pass to Sean Shaw at Jack Trice Stadium.
“I thought to myself, ‘I learned my lesson against Oklahoma of not executing on a play that decides the game. Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s execute this time,’” Purdy said. “We did that.
“The Oklahoma play, I was just trying to make something happen and I didn’t let the play develop and I missed (Charlie) Kolar. For this one I was just going through the progressions and keeping it simple and hit whoever is open.”
This time around, Purdy stayed patient even though he was under pressure.
His first two options were running back Breece Hall in the flat and Kolar running a corner route. Both players were covered.
Purdy rolled out of the pocket, bought time, and waited for Shaw as the third option to come from the other side of the field on the backside of the play.
“For us, putting it in Brock’s hands, it’s similar to Oklahoma,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “Put it in his hands, let the best player on the team give you an opportunity to win you the football game.”
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Before the play, during a timeout, Campbell recommended two plays to Purdy. Purdy vetoed them both. Purdy wanted this play.
“That was something we’ve had in our back pocket this whole season,” Purdy said. “We hadn’t run it and we wanted to do it.
“We had it in for 2-point conversions and short yardage goal-line situations, so on fourth down, when the game’s on the line, we went to it.”
Purdy finished the game completing 18 of his 19 passes, including all 10 in the fourth quarter for two touchdowns and another rushing touchdown.
He was lights out in the second half.
The sophomore finished with 372 yards and four passing touchdowns on 29-of-42 passing.
“The kid is an ultimate competitor,” Campbell said. “He wants to be great and he demands the best from himself.
“One thing that he’s better at than I am is he has a short memory. He has this unique ability to play the next play as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. I think that’s really hard to do. I think that’s hard to do in our society as people, let alone a 19-to-20-year-old young man to do it on the football field where there is so much noise and so much on his shoulders. He makes me better and he makes all of us better. But man, is he an unbelievable competitor.
“Brock would tell you that it wasn’t a great first half. Yet, when this team has needed him the most, he’s been his best. It’s a pleasure to coach him and it’s going to be really fun to watch him grow because I think an even better Brock Purdy will be really dangerous.”
As a team, Iowa State (7-5, 5-3 Big 12) struggled for much of the afternoon, and trailed 24-21 after three quarters to Kansas (3-8, 1-7) before Purdy steadied the ship in the fourth quarter.
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“I think it was execution,” Campbell said. “I haven’t seen us drop any balls all year and all of a sudden we’re dropping balls left and right. We’re the least penalized team in the Big 12 by far and I go out in the first half and I see penalty after penalty. We’re second-and-40 at one point, or whatever it was. That’s not how we play here.
“Why we got there, I don’t know that, but I think it was just an execution standpoint. We had plays open. We had guys open. We had plays out there and I think that’s the disheartening thing, is we left a lot out there today as much as we were able to make some great plays happen.”
The defense also let up a number of big plays. Five Kansas receivers had at least one reception of at least 25 yards and running back Pooka Williams’ longest run was 48 yards.
“I don’t know why we didn’t play well, and if I did, I’d tell you,” Campbell said. “I put it on myself. Senior day is emotional, the last game we played was emotional, we’re getting to the end of the season and I think all of those things can be excuses.
“I don’t want to be that team. I want to be the team that’s getting better every week and I want to be the team that can be at its best when the best is needed. There were parts of today where we did do that, which is huge and that’s why we ended up winning the football game. But consistently doing it for four quarters, we have yet to do that. It’s out there for us, and this team has the ability to do that. That’s something that’s really important to me.”
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