Oct 16, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Iowa State Cyclones running back Breece Hall (28) finds a hole in the Kansas State Wildcats defense during the third quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
MANHATTAN, Kan. — As the media filed by Iowa State’s jubilant locker room Saturday night in Manhattan, Kan., a boisterous chant echoed through the concrete walls.
It was hard to make out …
Was it “Defense?” Or “Prevent?” Maybe even — perhaps, it was a Cyclone player’s name — “Mevis?”
After ISU dispatched Kansas State 33-20 on a cool, crisp “Brocktober” evening, the Cyclones’ chant honored placekicker Andrew Mevis who went 4-for-4 on field goals.
“Yessir,” ISU’s record-setting quarterback Brock Purdy confirmed after his team’s first win at K-State since 2004. “He’s been awesome.”
That appraisal sprawled team-wide Saturday. Purdy was magnificent, completing 22 of 25 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown to Sean Shaw that gave the Cyclones a 27-7 lead late in the third quarter. Purdy has completed 78.8 percent of his passes over the past four games while tossing nine touchdowns to just one interception.
“Just his efficiency,” ISU head coach Matt Campbell said of Purdy after his team improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Big 12 play. “The way he played. His poise. I really thought he did a phenomenal job distributing the football.”
Purdy completed passes to nine different teammates in the win. That expansive approach to maximum efficiency also helped produce the Cyclones’ first 10-plus minute touchdown drive (18 plays, 93 yards) in 20 years.
Tick, tock, wow.
“Honestly, I didn’t even — I was trying to get the ball off before the shot clock was going down,” Purdy said. “But yeah, at the end I was, ‘OK, that’s pretty good for us,’ in terms of just doing our job, chipping away, and then being able to trust and (offensive coordinator Tom) Manning’s play calls because it really just came down to converting on third down every single time.”
That’s no exaggeration.
The Cyclones converted all five of their third-down chances on that grinding drive that ended in Shaw’s touchdown grab on third and eight from the 11. The first converter? Xavier Hutchinson. The second? backup tailback Jirehl Brock. The third? Purdy, on a pump fake-filled scramble. The fourth? Mr. third-down conversion Charlie Kolar.
“Absolutely, we’ve got to be able to get off the field on third down and we didn’t do it,” Wildcats coach Chris Klieman said.
But it wasn’t confined to that drive. What came before — and after — served as testaments to ISU’s broad-based efficacy, as well.
“If you go into the sequence of finishing the (first) half: two-minute drill, able to kick the field goal — Andrew Mevis had a great day for us,” Campbell said. “Obviously great to see, but that play was really big to get the field goal, but then we come out defensively (and) we’re able to get the ball back, not let them score — and we’ve talked about that. Because I think in our losses you’ve seen us — actually, both of our losses — we’ve scored in the two-minute drill and then we didn’t take advantage of it coming out of half. So the ability to learn and grow from those situations and understand how valuable those are, I think that’s probably as impressive to me as the fact that we were able to have that big drive. Those were some great plays by Brock on third down. Great conversion to Sean Shaw and how great is it that Sean Shaw is the guy that comes up with the (touchdown) reception, a guy that was injured the first half of the season and we haven’t had Sean until probably two weeks ago. So I think all those things are hugely positive as much as 18 plays in the drive.”
Breece Hall had another big day in his home state, too. The Wichita native rushed for a career-high 197 yards on 30 carries and extended his program record string of consecutive games with at least one touchdown run (he had two Saturday) to 18.
“To come in here against a (respectable) opponent and pull out the win the way we did, it felt good,” said Hall, who unleashed a 75-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. “I think it’s going to be a real good confidence booster for our guys.”
All-American linebacker Mike Rose led the Cyclones with nine tackles, but again, several players helped clamp down on K-State’s offense. Nineteen ISU players — including Mevis — notched at least one tackle. Will McDonald had two sacks and a pair of forced fumbles. Enyi Uwazurike had a sack, too. O’Rien Vance had two quarterback hurries. Greg Eisworth picked off a pass from Skylar Thompson in the first half.
So the credit could be spread broadly on that side of the ball, as well.
“We’re finally in Big 12 play and one of the hardest thing for me was putting together the 70-man (travel) roster,” Campbell said. “This is the first time we’ve had to cut it down to that with Big 12 play. I thought that was a real challenge — but 60 of the 70 guys had a role in the football game. I’ve talked a lot about it, the more guys involved, the better we’re going to be as a football team. … It was great to see so many guys do their role, do their job and we’ve really harped on that, pressed on that, and I think that’s critical for our success not only tonight but moving forward.”
So a lot of names could have been chanted after the Cyclones chased away a lot of purple-hued demons at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, but “Mevis, Mevis, Mevis” it was.
And it was perfect. He was perfect — in terms of field goals, at least. Mevis’s four 3-pointers were all from 40 yards or deeper, and he smiled when I mentioned his teammates bellowing out his last name, again and again.
“Yeah, that is really cool, but in the end, the entire team did a phenomenal job tonight,” said Mevis, a graduate transfer from FCS Fordham. “The offense moved the ball and just gave me the chance to do my job. Ultimately, that’s what I want to do, my job.”
Same goes for everybody. Not too much. Just every last bit of enough.
“This is what we want moving forward,” Purdy said. “This is how we envisioned ourselves playing every single game, no matter who it is. Just to be efficient. Play with the defense, offense. Just play as a whole unit. And to be able to do it here (for) the first time since 2004 or whatever. It was awesome for us and, yeah, we were going crazy in the locker room, too. Really happy for Andrew Mevis, too. A really consistent kicker.”