Members of the Iowa State Cyclones football team celebrate a 10-7 win over Iowa during the Cy-Hawk Series football game on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. © Bryon Houlgrave/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Iowa City — O’Rien Vance is not sure where he went.
Iowa State’s senior captain only knows he was celebrating. He was celebrating with his teammates and coaches. He was celebrating with anyone he could find.
Then, he found the trophy.
That’s when clarity returned for the Cedar Rapids native who tallied a team-high six tackles, a tackle for loss and forced a fumble in the Cyclones’ thrilling 10-7 win over Iowa.
For the first time since Vance was a freshman in high school, the Cy-Hawk trophy is going back to Ames.
“Means the world,” Vance said of the rush for the trophy after Aaron Blom’s last-second field goal attempt to tie the game fell well short of the upright. “All the older guys that we’ve had come through, past teammates, witnessing what’s happened, and this being my first time actually playing (at Kinnick Stadium) it means the world to me.”
That rush of celebration certainly didn’t come without adversity.
Iowa State trailed almost immediately after Iowa blocked a punt that gave the Hawkeyes field possession deep in Cyclone territory. It was the first of two punts Iowa blocked in the game.
Two plays later, Leshon Williams powered into the end zone and the Hawkeyes led 7-0.
“I thought our ability to handle some imperfection early, that was big,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “Man, you want to get off to a great start. We didn’t get off to a great start. Man, you want to take care of the ball. We didn’t always take care of the ball. Man, you want to play great on special teams. We didn’t always do it. But, when it mattered the most, we were able to do those things.”
Iowa State evened the turnover and special teams battle for the first time when Gerry Vaughn got to Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras for a strip sack recovered by Will McDonald.
It was the first turnover Iowa State had forced in this rivalry since 2015.
Only eight plays and 49 yards later, Iowa State was on the doorstep of the Hawkeye end zone, looking to even the game at seven. Then, Jirehl Brock had the football dislodged from his arms as he tried to dive over the pile at the goal line.
Iowa still led 7-0.
“I go back to times the last couple years where when things went against us, we kind of folded our tents instead of just kept playing,” Campbell said. “It’s a game of imperfection. You’ve got to keep playing. You’ve got to play 60 minutes, and not look at the scoreboard. I thought our kids did a great job of that today.”
Roughly halfway through the second quarter, Iowa State was able to work their way deep into Iowa territory again, this time courtesy of a 13-play drive that spanned 76 yards.
But, a pair of back shoulder fades to Xavier Hutchinson sandwiched around a quarterback power from Hunter Dekkers left the Cyclones short of the end zone.
Jace Gilbert was able to knock through a 22-yard field goal, but nobody was happy with two trips inside the Iowa 20-yard line and coming away with only three points.
The Cyclones got another opportunity to score when Petras was intercepted by Colby Reeder at the Iowa 18-yard line late in the second quarter.
Two plays later, Dekkers was looking towards Hutchinson in the end zone and threw into double coverage. Cooper DeJean came up with an interception to halt Iowa State’s momentum again.
Then, it was halftime, and the stage was set for Campbell to rip into his team. The Cyclones had gotten inside of the Iowa red zone on three separate occasions, and came out with only a field goal to show for it.
Iowa State’s head coach took a different approach.
“I coached sixth-grade girls softball this summer,” Campbell said. “We got to the championship game. And we had to play over at Roland-Story and their varsity team is chanting in the dugout. We were down 4-2 after the third inning and we came up the bat and we scored three runs. Got it to 5-4 and then we went on our on a run and I said, ‘Listen, if our sixth-grade girls can do this against Roland-Story for a championship, you guys can get this thing figured out here in the second half.'”
The process of figuring that out was long and somewhat rocky, but the Cyclones were able to break through eventually.
The third quarter was one of the most eventful, and simultaneously uneventful, quarters ever, producing Dekkers’ second interception of the day on a miscommunication with Jaylin Noel then Iowa blocked its second punt to set themselves up inside Iowa State’s 20.
The adversity started to build up, as it often does for Iowa State during this game, but their mindsets never changed.
“Next play, do your job and onto the next play.”
Five plays later, Vance did his job again when he forced Monte Pottebaum to fumble at the goal line. Kendall Jackson recovered the ball and the play was upheld after a review.
The stage was set for a drive that will live in Iowa State lore.
The Cyclones marched 99 yards in 21 plays while running 11:42 off the clock spanning the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.
It was capped when Dekkers found Hutchinson in the end zone for the Cyclones’ first touchdown in Kinnick Stadium since 2014.
And just like that, the Cyclones had the lead.
“I would say this, that’s a great defense. And I felt like offensively, we were in pretty good rhythm,” Campbell said. “I think that 99-yard drive kind of emphasizes what we did when we needed it the most, we made the plays.”
From there, Iowa State’s defense was able to largely shut down Iowa’s anemic offense. Still, Iowa State’s offense wasn’t able to do enough to officially seal the game away.
Iowa State’s defense thought it had sealed the game away when they were able to sack Petras on a fourth down. The sack was wiped out by an offsides penalty, and an additional 15 yards was tacked on due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Iowa State sideline.
It was chaos. Is the game over? Should Iowa State start celebrating?
Nope. Onto the next play.
Petras completed a pass to Sam LaPorta for a nine-yard gain to the Iowa State 30-yard line, and suddenly Blom was running onto the field with an opportunity to send the game to overtime.
The kick came up well short — and the celebration began.
“It was just instantaneous,” Vance said. “Just celebrating with my teammates, and to be honest with you, I don’t know where I went.”
Iowa State’s seven-year, six-game losing streak was over. Vance, the man who has experienced more of Iowa State’s pain against this arch-rival than anyone else, was ready to celebrate with anyone he could find.
“Then, I found the trophy,” Vance said. “And that’s all that matters.”