Iowa State senior wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson pulls in a touchdown reception in the third quarter against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. © Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
AMES — Brock Purdy knelt. The clock shedded its final seconds. Iowa State’s fans flooded onto the field at Jack Trice Stadium and all Cyclone receiver Xavier Hutchinson could do was smile.
The standout wideout said ‘cheese,’ over and over as young fans begged for — and received — pictures with him after ISU’s 24-21 win Saturday over No. 8 Oklahoma State.
But just how many snapshots did Hutchinson pose for after the Cyclones’ 12th win over a ranked team in the coach Matt Campbell era?
“Probably like 50,” Hutchinson said, still smiling.
ISU’s ‘A’ wide receiver — like the rest of the team — certainly delivered a bravura performance against the always-tough and previously unbeaten Cowboys. He caught a career-best 12 passes on his 13 targets. He snared two touchdown passes from Purdy — the first on a fourth and goal and the second three plays after his 51-yard touchdown was called back, ludicrously, for taunting.
Ahem, about that call …
“I have to watch my words because at the end of the day, those things are going to happen,” said Campbell, whose team improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in Big 12 play. “I don’t know that I’m in full agreeance and it’s not my place to be in agreeance — those guys have a tough job. But boy oh boy, do I believe in Xavier. It was great to see him come right back and be the difference. We’re going to win and we’re going to lose with our ‘A’ players and he’s an ‘A’ player.”
He’s an ‘E’ player, too — as in elite.
Hutchinson eclipsed 100 receiving yards for the fourth time in his career also drew a pair of pass interference calls from Cowboys defenders.
He said he felt like NBA superstar Steph Curry. Like he could do no wrong. He could call his shot and Purdy would dish out immaculate assists.
“He’s just passionate,” said Purdy, who has thrown 11 touchdowns to one interception in the past five games. “He just has some hunger and drive to make plays and I knew that when I got the ball to him he was gonna do that. That dude just brought so much juice on the sideline after those plays, so when I see that I feed off of it, and I know a lot of guys around him, the offense especially, they feed off that. It’s really contagious. I’m proud of him, so obviously we’re gonna continue to see this throughout the season, so I’m really pumped.”
So should every Iowa State fan.
Hutchinson plays the game with the level of joy and confidence Purdy has exuded since his so-called coming out party as a third-stringer-turned-savior in the 2018 win in Stillwater.
Oh, and about that exuberance the guy they call ‘X’ plays with …
Officials deemed it excessive when he slightly high-stepped into the end zone after that 51-yard jaunt.
Purdy went right back to him on first down at the Cowboys’ 18. The first catch spanned six yards. Purdy then made a read and ran for three more. And on third and one from the nine-yard line, Purdy found Hutchinson for a touchdown that tied the score, 14-14, early in the third quarter.
The Cyclones trailed just one more time, 21-17, but Hutchinson made a key 13-yard catch on ISU’s ensuing drive that ended with Breece Hall extending his Big 12 record for consecutive games with a touchdown with 19.
Oklahoma State had one final shot, but on fourth and two at the ISU 42, Kym-Mani King and Isheem Young stacked up Brennan Presley inches short of the line to gain.
One tension-filled review later, Purdy could kneel. A sellout crowd could exult. And Hutchinson could smile and strike a pose. Again and again. Basking gratefully in afterglow of the comeback win.
“Honestly, it feels like someone’s looking up to you,” Hutchinson said of the postgame photo sessions. “And it makes you feel really good to know that people look at you as maybe a role model, or a player that they want to be like. I remember as a kid, I would look at other players like that in college football. So just to have that kind of deja vu, it just honestly felt so good. I’ve always dreamed of being able to do that type of stuff in this type of game and I’m just so happy that it came kind of true today.”