Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) celebrates with fans after Cyclones win 24-21 over Oklahoma State at Jack Trice Stadium Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK
AMES — Just 1:09 remained on the clock. Iowa State defensive backs Kym-Mani King and Isheem Young had just stood up Oklahoma State’s Brennan Presley inches short of a first down on fourth and two. Officials measured. A few chain links short. So the play went to review and the Cyclones — who were clinging to a 24-21 lead over the No. 8 Cowboys — waited, waited and waited …
“Nothing I’m not used to,” said defensive tackle Enyi Uwazurike, who recorded his single season career-high fifth sack in the tense win. “If you’ve followed us for the last few years, we’ve definitely had situations like that, so we just know to roll with the punches and just continue to play. But I knew he was short. No matter how many times they would have reviewed it, I knew it was short.”
Right. But in those nerve-fraying moments it was uncertain whether the call would be upheld — especially after a bizarre taunting penalty had been called on receiver Xavier Hutchinson earlier that erased a long touchdown he swiftly replaced.
So how was ‘X’ feeling on the sidelines as they spot was being reviewed?
“I said, ‘Please do not do (this) like they did me on my taunting.’ And they didn’t,” said Hutchinson, who recorded a career high 12 catches and scored two touchdowns despite the gallingly bad unsportsmanlike conduct call. “So I was extremely happy. The uproar from the stadium? That gives you chills just to see everyone rushing down even though it was like a mosh pit out there. It was super fun and that’s not necessarily why you play the game, but those are pros to playing the game — just seeing all that and seeing how football can just bring everybody together.”
It sure did Saturday before a sellout crowd of 61,500. Even as they clenched their teeth and fiddled with their fingernails as that review unfolded — thankfully, to the preferred result.
But if it hadn’t, the Cyclones were ready to make another stand, as needed.
“We’re talking about, man, if they keep the ball, we have one timeout and how are we going to use it?” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said as his team improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play against the eighth-ranked Cowboys (6-1, 3-1) We’ve been in these moments. It’s not foreign to us. Even as coaches, we have to go through it. The ability for us to understand that if they reverse the decision, we can’t control it. I probably would’ve been upset and all, but the reality would’ve been that we were going to have to go play defense.”
It was King’s only tackle of the game. Young had six and was happy just to assist.
“It was a great play by Kym-Mani by triggering and getting through the block to hold him up before the first down,” Young said. “I just came to finish it off, so it was a great feeling.”
ISU’s kicker Andrew Mevis punted for the first time Saturday. He actually punted five times and averaged 37.8 yards per attempt, which was a bit of an upgrade for the Cyclones, who rank last in the Big 12 in that special teams category.
“That bye week we started giving him some reps as the punter and there’s something really special about him,” Campbell said. “I think he’s one of the most unique and special specialists I’ve been around just because he’s like a pro. So I think he gives us consistency. I thought he was awesome today. I thought he did a great job and really handled the opportunity really well. I think we’ll keep evaluating because I don’t want to put too much stress on him where he he becomes a jack of all trades and a master of nothing. But so far, I thought there were really good positive results today from him.”
Mevis became the first ISU player to handle kicking and punting duties since Tony Yelk did it in 2001.
WILL “THE SACK MAN” MCDONALD
ISU’s elite edge rusher notched consecutive sacks to squash one of Oklahoma State’s fourth-quarter drives. McDonald is now just half a sack behind all-time program leader JaQuan Bailey, who finished his Cyclone career with 25.5.
“‘Quan taught me everything,” said McDonald, who has struck for 17 sacks in his last 23 games. “I can’t say I would be happy to break his record, but it would be cool. He basically taught me everything when I came here — all the moves, everything that I look at; play-action pass, which you can tell. So I give all the credit to him.”
All-American linebacker Mike Rose made his 45th straight start, which is the ninth-best active streak among FBS players. … The Cyclones improved to 8-21 in the Campbell era when trailing at halftime. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is 35-6 when leading at halftime since Sept. 17, 2016. … Cornerback Anthony Johnson recorded his 150th career tackle. … All-American tight end Charlie Kolar has caught at least one pass in his past 30 games. It’s the third-longest such streak in program history.
“A lot of people try to say he can’t put the team on his back and I think he proved everybody wrong. So big kudos to Brock for showing everybody wrong, like he always does.” — Xavier Hutchinson on Brock Purdy, who is now 14-1 as a starter in Big 12 games at Jack Trice Stadium.