For the first time in school history, the Iowa State Cyclones fell to the Ohio Bobcats 10-7 in a game where it took four minutes into the third quarter to have points put on the board. This is the Cyclones’ first loss to a MAC team since losing to a Matt Campbell-coached Toledo squad. A stunned Cyclones fall to 1-2 ahead of conference play beginning. Here is what went wrong in Athens for Iowa State.
The first quarter for Iowa State mirrored their start in the Cy-Hawk game last week. Rocco Becht connected with his tight end Aiden Bitter for a 45 yard reception quickly getting into Ohio territory. This marks the Cyclones’ longest play from scrimmage this season. What appeared to be a promising drive unfolded into frustration. Becht missed a wide-open Ben Brahmer which would have been good for a touchdown. Instead, Campbell would send out the kicking team to attempt a 47 yard field goal. For the second straight game, Chase Contreraz missed an opening scoring opportunity. Iowa State’s defense was lucky that Ohio followed suit and shanked their first attempt as well. Field goal woes would continue as Contreraz finished the day 0-2. This included a late 37 yard attempt that appeared to go in but could not be reviewed due to the rule that if a ball travels above the goal post it cannot be reviewed.
With the kicking game struggles continuing, there is more pressure on Becht and the offense to protect the ball. Now, the loss should not be put solely on Becht as he and a few other Cyclones were hit with food poisoning before the game, including star receiver Jaylin Noel. Late in the fourth quarter, Becht led a two-play, 72 yard drive that ended with an 18 yard touchdown reception by Jayden Higgins. Putting the balance of the game into the hands of the Cyclones defense, which forced a three and out. Iowa State had the ball, 2:35 on the clock, and 88 yards ahead of them to either tie or take the lead in the game. An unfortunate bounce off the broken pass led to Becht’s second interception of the day. The red-shirt freshman quarterback finished his day completing 17 of 24 for 233 yards and one touchdown.
No run game:
Make no mistake, the Ohio Bobcats have an impressive and physical defense. They lead the MAC by allowing only an average of 13.3 points per game. Iowa State felt that defensive pressure with only putting up 38 total yards rushing and only averaging 1.7 yards per carry. In the first half, the Cyclones were held to only eight yards rushing and 0.7 yards per carry.
Issues with the run game took away the confidence from the play-calling late in the game. There were two fourth and short opportunities for Iowa State late in the game and with no power back behind Becht, Campbell elected to punt.
Third down struggles:
The Cyclones finished the day by converting on third down only three times out of their 11 opportunities. With the lack of a solid run threat, Campbell found himself faced with an average distance of 7.4 yards per third down. Ohio’s offense was not much better in the first half only converting on two of seven. The only difference was that the Bobcats made the adjustments needed and gained first downs on three of five in the fourth quarter.
No stopping Rourke:
Kurtis Rourke took over the second half and carved into the Iowa State defense with his arm and his legs. The praised Iowa State secondary was exposed with broken coverage, miscommunications, and misreads. On the lone touchdown drive for Ohio, Rourke found receiver Sam Wiglusz wide-open in the back of the endzone due to the miscommunication by the linebackers and corners.
Regarding the defensive line, it seemed like every time the Cyclones had pressure on the senior, he would find an opening and run for 10 to 12 yards at a time. Rourke finished the day with 135 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and a team-high 58 yards rushing. Ohio rushed for 3 yards per carry and in the first half, that number was as high as 4.7 yards.
Up next, the Cyclones will return to Jack Trice to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 3 p.m.