Takeaways: Iowa State loses despite late comeback thanks to early mistakes

Wide receiver Deshaunte Jones attempts to avoid Baylor defensive backs during the Cyclones’ 23-21 loss to Baylor on Sept. 28.

Zane Douglas

On Saturday, Iowa State evened up its record with a loss to the Baylor Bears 23-21. It looked like the Cyclones were going to lose by a lot, but thanks to a fourth-quarter comeback, they held the lead at a point before losing it and losing the game.

Wild final quarter

Iowa State got the ball with just over a minute in the third and then started off the fourth quarter with a touchdown by redshirt sophomore Johnnie Lang.

Baylor’s lead was cut to 13 at 20-7.

Iowa State got the ball back again and was able to march down the field and score again to shave seven more points off of the lead.

With only seven minutes remaining and without control of the ball, it was still going to be a tall task to come back against a solid Bears defense.

Keeping in tune with what that quarter had already seen, Iowa State got the ball back and marched down the field again.

A 20-yard touchdown strike from sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy to redshirt sophomore tight end Charlie Kolar ended the drive and after the extra point, Iowa State had its first lead of the game.

They left just under four minutes left on the clock, which was too much time as Baylor drove down the field and kicked what would be the game-winning field goal with a little over 20 seconds remaining.

“Nothing’s tough with this team because of the kids we have,” said coach Matt Campbell. “When our back’s against the wall, they continue to believe in each other.”

Iowa State scored all of its points in the fourth quarter to make this contest even look remotely close. Before the fourth, this game was shaping up to be an ugly loss and ad game all around for Baylor and Iowa State offensively.

Mistakes, mistakes and more mistakes

The Cyclones did a lot of things wrong on Saturday in the first three quarters that led them to their loss to the Bears.

Baylor actually had their own errors throughout the game, including a missed field goal and a botched snap on an extra point attempt.

It got to the point where Baylor went for multiple fourth downs deep in enemy territory because coach Matt Rhule’s confidence wasn’t high in his kicking unit.

“I just didn’t feel good about it,” Rhule said about the second instance of going for it on fourth down. “I was kind of reluctant just [because of] the wind and all that stuff.”

Field goal kicking wasn’t just bad for the Bears.

In a game where the Cyclones lost by two points, any small mistake could’ve been the reason they lost.

Kicker Connor Assalley lined up for his first field goal attempt of the afternoon early in the second quarter.

The try — from 49 yards out — sailed wide right and left the Cyclones empty-handed.

Assalley had a chance to redeem himself on the last play of the first half from the same distance.

This time, abysmal blocking led to the attempt being blocked and the Cyclones felt lucky to escape without a returned touchdown on the block.

Compound the missed field goals with two key turnovers — a second-quarter interception in enemy territory and a fumble on the last gasp effort after Baylor kicked the game-winning field goal — and this game became a clear indicator that the Cyclones have some things to work on.

Tight ends take control

This season has been a welcome surprise for the Cyclones when it comes to tight ends.

Kolar, who caught the final touchdown pass, had five receptions for 72 yards and the oft-injured Chase Allen hauled in two receptions for 37 yards.

Allen had another long reception that was called back due to holding.

Allen and Kolar combined for 109 receiving yards and were often Purdy’s go-to targets thanks to a quiet day from the receiving core, and a possible injury that kept sophomore Tarique Milton out of action.

Iowa State left themselves in tough situations all day and it came back to bite them in the end.

Despite this, Campbell stayed optimistic.

“Where we have to continue to correct are some of those things before we get ourselves in those positions,” Campbell said. “This team’s really easy to coach.”