May 25, 2024

Iowa State’s second half rally falls short as Kansas wins in Ames

Iowa State Cyclones Football

Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell discusses a previous play with an official during a timeout in the second quarter against Kansas Saturday November 4, 2023 at Jack Trice Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

AMES, Ia. — The 61,500 fans at Jack Trice Stadium watched as the Cyclones attempted to extend their dominance over the Jayhawks at home.

Iowa State fell behind early, and battled back with a competitive second half, but once the smoke cleared, Kansas prevailed 28-21. The Jayhawks put an end to the Cyclones’ three-game winning streak, and led throughout the contest. Not to mention it was Kansas’ first victory in Ames since 2008.

Although Iowa State was held scoreless in the first quarter, Coach Matt Campbell thought his players fought back hard, just couldn’t execute when it mattered the most.

“You know, for whatever reason, we weren’t ready to play early,” Campbell said. “But man, I thought our kids did a really great job responding.”

Iowa State (5-4) finished with fewer plays, yards and time of possession than Kansas. Campbell knows that’s not a formula for success. On top of that, the Cyclones’ 333 yards of total offense, were its’ fewest in Big 12 play this season. The Jayhawks scored a touchdown in every quarter, including one on an interception thrown by Rocco Becht.

At one point in the third quarter Campbell found his team down by 18 points. A light bulb turned on for the Cyclones after that, and they rallied back to pull within three points. However, Iowa’s State defense allowed an 80-yard touchdown pass on Kansas’ next possession, and Campbell’s team was down by double-digits again.

Becht’s interception, and the blown coverage in the secondary were the plays that shifted the momentum of the game to the Jayhawks’ side in Campbell’s eyes.

“Defensively, we were right there on a couple of things where the precision and detail were just a hair off,” he said. “Really, the same thing on offense, our recipe for success is the ability to win those margins and we didn’t.”

It was obvious deep in the fourth quarter that the Jayhawks wanted it more. Officiating wasn’t the best, but No. 21 Kansas survived a furious rally by Iowa State, and Campbell thought the better team won.

“I tip my hat to them, they did a great job in the football game and made some plays to win the football game,” the 43-year old coach said.

Becht completed 20 of his 26 passes for 216 yards. He recorded a rushing score, but failed to throw a touchdown for the first time this season. Running back Eli Sanders also generated a touchdown on the ground, but both teams struggled to run the ball. Campbell was encouraged by some bright spots. The Cyclones converted half of their third down attempts, and averaged 5.9 yards per play. Kicker Chase Contreraz made two field goals, including a 35-yarder.

Defensively Iowa State generated no sacks though. Defensive back Beau Freyler racked up a game-high, 10 tackles, including one for loss. Linebacker Gerry Vaughn added seven stops. Campbell thought his defense held up against the Jayhawks’ high-flying attack, just couldn’t limit the explosive plays in the clutch.

Despite the loss, there’s plenty for Iowa State to build on, including a chance at reaching bowl eligibility next Saturday at BYU. No doubt Campbell and his players were humbled by this loss, but he plans on using it as a learning lesson, and head back to the drawing board with new ideas.

“We were a hair off with a couple opportunities to swing the momentum totally back our way, but we’ll grow from it and learn from it.”