Oct 13, 2018; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Deshaunte Jones (8) catches a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Jack Trice Stadium. Iowa State beat West Virginia 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — The football’s gonna be tipped.
That’s what Iowa State receiver Deshaunte Jones thought as he snuck past West Virginia’s secondary and tucked himself in for a potential decisive touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s electric Big 12 game at Jack Trice Stadium.
It wasn’t, of course — deflected that is.
Instead, Cyclones true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy lofted the ball just out of the defenders’ reach and Jones slid underneath to clutch it, giving upstart ISU a 26-14 edge against No. 6 West Virginia that would eventually swell into a 30-14 win.
“I just saw the safety coming in my peripheral vision,” said Jones, whose second touchdown catch of the season helped seal a Big 12 race-altering triumph before 56,629 jubilant fans. “I thought it was tipped, but he didn’t and I caught it.”
Simple as that. But 12:17 still remained and even though a two-point conversion from Purdy to Matt Eaton made the score 28-14, the win was far from secure until the defense pounced for a safety with 5:14 left and the Cyclones’ running game chewed up the rest of the clock.
ISU ran eight plays that spanned 47 yards to consume the final minutes, then seconds. All were ground-based and David Montgomery shined on six of them — compiling three of his eight rushes of 10 yards or greater as the Cyclones wrung the will out of the Mountaineers’ (5-1, 3-1) typically salty defense.
“That’s David,” said Jones, a good friend of Montgomery’s as the duo grew up in Cincinnati. ” I’ve been seeing it since I was in seventh grade, doing crazy runs like that, ever since we were little. It’s just so crazy to see him do that — and you know if he gets the ball, you have to block, because he’s gonna make four or five guys miss.”
Blocking is a point of pride for Jones and all the ISU pass catchers.
Hakeem Butler made two key ones that helped spring Montgomery earlier in the game. The first paved the way for Montgomery’s longest jaunt of the year — a 37-yard dash that set up his own four-yard touchdown catch from Purdy that tied the score 7-7.
But did Montgomery notice his downfield efforts as the Cyclones imporved to 3-3 and 2-2 in the conference?
“I hope so, because I was working,” said Butler, who posted his fourth career 100-yard receiving game while scoring his 14th career touchdown, which is tied for sixth all-time at ISU. “I take pride in my blocking.”
Montgomery’s two-yard run would give the Cyclones a 13-7 second quarter lead and they’d never trail after that — this against an West Virginia team that had never been behind this season until Saturday.
“David was David tonight,” ISU coach Matt Campbell said of his star back, who sat out last week’s win at Oklahoma State because of injury. “I thought he really got into a good rhythm early in the football game and the second fold of it is, you’re seeing a maturing offensive line. You’re seeing guys that — and they weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but moving people, finishing, tight ends that are making critical blocks down field — those are things that we didn’t have the first two years and David hasn’t had. So I think it’s really fun to watch that start to come together.”
Also fun: Butler shares Montgomery’s penchant for perfection.
After the game he said he didn’t know what his stats were — or even that the Cyclones won by 16 points, their third largest margin of victory against a top-10 team in program history.
He did know he could have been better.
“I know I could have had more yards, more touchdowns, so, I mean, we won by I’m not sure how much,” Butler said.
Sixteen, I said.
“Sixteen,” Butler nodded. “We definitely could have won by more and the defense played lights out, like unbelievable against a Heisman candidate (Will Grier), so I’m so proud.”
He’s not alone. The defense crafted a performance for the ages, limiting the Mountaineers to just 152 yards on 42 plays.
ISU ran 30 more plays — and dominated every statistical category, along with the scoreboard, which didn’t sit well with the visitors, from start to finish.
“It was a chippy game,” Butler said. “That’s just who they are. I’m from up there in Baltimore so I kind of expected it already coming in, so it’s nothing new to me.”
Nor is success in October, a month ISU has posted wins over teams ranked No. 3, 4 and 6 in the past two seasons.
Who gets the credit for that? Everyone. Now an off week beckons and another opportunity to sharpen things up presents itself in advance of the second half of the regular season.
“Maybe October is one heck of a month,” said tight end Charlie Kolar, whose second touchdown catch of the season put ISU up 20-7 in the second quarter. “But we don’t think like that. We’re gonna use the bye week to our advantage and get guys healthy and get ready for the rest of October, November and December.”