Sep 26, 2020; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Breece Hall (28) avoids the tackle of TCU Horned Frogs defensive tackle Soni Misi (99) and scores a touchdown in the second quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
It was not always pretty, but for the first time since 2015, the Cyclones are 1-0 in Big 12 play.
Just two weeks after a deflating season-opening loss to Louisiana, the Cyclones started league-play off with a 37-34 win over TCU in Fort Worth. The Cyclones will now turn their attention towards Oklahoma next week in Ames with the Sooners coming off a stunning loss to Kansas State on Saturday.
The win over the Frogs can best be described as a roller coaster. The first quarter ended with no score as the Cyclones’ offense continued to struggle and the defense had the clamps on a TCU offense participating in its first live action of the season.
That changed with 9:50 left on the clock in the second quarter when the Cyclones’ sophomore tailback Breece Hall burst through the right side and scampered down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown run. Hall’s score was quickly followed by Frogs quarterback Matthew Downing connecting with Quentin Johnston for a 37-yard passing score.
Roughly five minutes later, a 24-yard field goal from Connor Assalley put the Cyclones back on top for good. The halftime lead was extended to 16-7 on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Brock Purdy to Darren Wilson Jr., the first of Wilson’s career.
That score was set up by a strip-sack and fumble recovery from JaQuan Bailey, who recorded 3.5 sacks in the first half as he became the program’s all-time leader in sacks, as well as tackles for loss. He also added seven tackles and four tackles for the loss in the contest.
The Horned Frogs struck first in the second half when Purdy inexplicably threw a pass backwards while being spun to the turf and it was caught by La’Kendrick VanZandt, who returned the fumble for a touchdown and pulled the Frogs within two.
Iowa State answered back quickly when Kene Nwangwu scored his second touchdown of the season on a 49-yard run to cap a three-play, 75-yard drive that took only 1:11 off the clock.
TCU’s offensive fortunes changed considerably when Max Duggan replaced Downing on the team’s first drive of the second half. The sophomore from Council Bluffs pulled TCU back within two with 23 seconds left in the third quarter when he connected with Taye Barber from 27-yards out.
While Duggan’s return to the field for TCU was admirable, Hall was the unquestioned star of this contest as he added a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to finish the game with 155 yards and three scores on 18 carries.
The sophomore from Wichita was the biggest reason Iowa State finished with 213 yards rushing. It was the Cyclones’ first Big 12 game with 200-plus rushing yards since the program’s win over West Virginia in 2018.
This win over TCU also marked the first time Iowa State recorded six or more sacks in a game since having seven in that same win over the Mountaineers. Bailey’s 3.5 sacks tied the single-game school record while Will McDonald and Enyi Uwazurike each added one and Latrell Bankston secured 0.5 sack of his own.
Purdy was able to shake off the early struggles to put together a strong statistical performance, finishing 18-of-23 for 211 yards and a touchdown. Eight different receivers caught passes for the Cyclones with Charlie Kolar’s five catches for 27 yards leading the way.
Iowa State and Oklahoma was selected for the six-day window earlier this week, which means the kick time will be announced on Sunday.