Quenton Bundrage’s big game overshadowed in football’s loss to Iowa

Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Tad Ecby, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Quenton Bundrage and junior tight end E.J. Bibbs celebrate the first touchdown of the game by Bundrage in the end zone against Iowa on Sept. 14 at Jack Trice Stadium. Bundrage scored all three Cyclone touchdowns but was clearly not enough in the 27-21 loss to in-state rivals.

Alex Halsted

Quenton Bundrage would have been the story.

With seven catches for 146 yards and three touchdowns — all of which came in the second half — how could he have not been?

Instead, play-calling questions, the lack of a running game, an abundance of offensive line injuries and a 27-21 loss to Iowa on Saturday all overshadowed him.

“He was extremely pleasing,” said ISU coach Paul Rhoads. “We haven’t had those kinds of explosive plays in four years and two games. That’s something this offense has been sorely lacking.”

After a booming 59-yard Kirby Van Der Kamp punt drew the biggest applause in the first half, Bundrage brought life to Jack Trice Stadium in the third quarter. He cut Iowa’s lead to 13-7 with a 67-yard touchdown, with most of the yardage coming after his catch and breakaway from the defender.

“If a team is willing to press you one-on-one, you should feel confident enough to know that you can beat the guy across from you,” Bundrage said after the game.

Iowa answered with two touchdowns of its own, taking the momentum right back.

Trailing 27-14 with 4:27 remaining in the game, ISU quarterback Sam Richardson and Bundrage attempted a comeback.

Richardson found Bundrage for a 26-yard touchdown, and just two minutes later connected with him 17-yards away in the back of the end zone to cut the Cyclones’ deficit to six.

Time eventually ran out on the comeback. Bundrage’s 146 yards were the most in a game by a Cyclone since Ty Watley had 153 in 1997, it was the first 100-yard game of his career and he set career highs for both receptions and touchdowns.

All that took a backseat to Iowa reclaiming the Cy-Hawk trophy.

“He was the one guy, as we talked media days and all that, I thought would be our go-to type of receiver,” Rhoads said. “You know, we haven’t consistently had a receiver have seven catches. I’d like to look at the box score every week and see a particular type of guy with seven catches or eight catches and six catches.

“We’re headed in that direction.”

Could Bundrage, who had 232 total yards and two touchdowns all of last season, become that guy this season as a redshirt sophomore?

“Yes, I can, but I’m not worried about that,” Bundrage said. “There are 11 guys on the field at once and we all need to do our jobs in the game.”

If Richardson does keep looking his way, though, he’ll be ready.

“I always look forward to getting the ball at any point,” Bundrage said. “You always have to be ready, because you never know when the ball’s going to come your way.”