Oct 12, 2019; Morgantown, WV, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Breece Hall (28) celebrates with Iowa State Cyclones offensive lineman Collin Olson (63) and Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Darren Wilson (17) after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Breece Hall‘s long-awaited breakthrough day came around 875 miles away from Ames.
The highly-touted Iowa State freshman tailback from Wichita, Kan., showed flashes of his scintillating skill set in the first five games of the season, but Saturday, put those talents on full display in a dominant 38-14 win at West Virginia.
Hall bounced, sprinted and powered for the first three rushing touchdowns of his career — and helped give the Cyclones (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) their first road win of the season.
“Pretty special,” ISU coach Matt Campbell said on the Cyclone Radio Network after the win. “So we’ll see if he can keep being that guy. Again, when you practice really hard and you start to really get into a groove, great things can happen. I thought he was terrific today and really the difference in the football game for Iowa State.”
Hall carried the ball a bruising 26 times for 132 yards and strode into the end zone twice in the second half. He became the Cyclones’ first true freshman back to eclipse 100 yards on the ground since David Montgomery achieved that feat against West Virginia in 2016. As for the defense — it pitched a shutout over the game’s final 30 minutes and sent the Mountaineers’ fans shuffling toward the exits early in the fourth quarter.
“This sport’s too hard to be perfect, so bad things are going to happen,” Campbell said in reference to a first-half pick-six that gave the Mountaineers’ a 7-0 lead. “How you respond to those is really important. … I think our kids responded really well. Really proud of them.”
ISU improved to 9-0 in the month of October in the past two-plus seasons — keeping pace with No. 1 Alabama, which also has been unblemished this month during the same span.
The Cyclones were locked in a 14-14 tie at halftime, but ended up outgaining West Virginia 372 yards to 190. ISU outscored the Mountaineers 24-0 in the second half and Arkansas grad transfer receiver La’Michael Pettway (eight catches, 81 yards) made three key third down catches to help cement the lopsided victory.
ISU quarterback Brock Purdy completed 19 of 30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown to Joe Scates — the first of the redshirt freshman receiver’s career. Purdy also rushed for a touchdown and redshirt freshman kicker Brayden Narveson drilled his first career field goal — a 45-yarder — to spark a 17-0 fourth quarter.
“I thought we were able to make some good adjustments at halftime and I thought our kids kid a great job of coming out fighting and working really hard to put a great finish to this game,” Campbell said.
ISU’s defense played without star safety Greg Eisworth (shoulder), who didn’t dress for the game and lost leading sack man O’Rien Vance after he was shaken up in the first half. He returned to the sideline, but not the game.
The Cyclones’ defense nonetheless forced three turnovers to go plus-two in turnover margin on the day. ISU is plus-four in that vital stat in the past two wins. Braxton Lewis recovered a fumble in the first half and added his fifth career interception in the second. Jatairis Grant also recovered a fumble for the Cyclones, who added nine tackles for loss and three sacks.
“I just thought our kids stayed the course,” Campbell said. “This is a hard place to play. It’s certainly a great football environment. We had to weather the first half storm and we did.”
They’ll likely need to overcome more obstacles next week when traveling to Texas Tech (11 a.m. kick).
“Tech is a great team,” ISU defensive tackle Jamahl Johnson said. “We’re looking forward to playing them.”