Iowa State’s defensive unit stifled any and all hope for the Wildcats

Kansas State quarterback Will Howard gets sacked by Iowa State defensive lineman JaQuan Bailey with Latrell Bankston supporting him during Iowa State and Kansas State’s game on Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

Zane Douglas

Up by one game over Kansas State in the Big 12 standings, Iowa State came into Saturday with an important game on its hands.

The Cyclones not only did the job by beating the Wildcats, but they shut Kansas State down, allowing 0 points in a massive blowout.

“A real challenge for football teams this time of year is can you continue to get better,” Head Coach Matt Campbell said. “I think you see us improving and that part is really big for our football team.”

The first drive of the game was a bad one for Iowa State’s defense to start as the first play the Wildcats had went for 29 yards. After allowing the Wildcats to chip away all the way to the three yard line, the Cyclones came up with a goal line stand on fourth down to turn it over on downs.

After that, it was all Cyclones.

Iowa State’s defense limited yards, picked up tackles for losses, sacked the quarterback, deflected passes and caused turnovers throughout the course of the game, leading to the most dominant game of the year for defensive coordinator Jon Heacock’s group.

“For the defense to turn them back around and to limit a drive where they did pretty well […] to hold them to zero points there I thought that was big,” Campbell said.

In the first half, the 32 passing yards given up on the first drive were the only ones all half. Kansas State quarterback Will Howard completed just three passes on nine attempts, all three coming during the first drive of the game.

Howard was benched late in the first half and didn’t return for the second, but Iowa State’s defense wasn’t phased.

The second half was just as dominant as the first half with the Cyclones only allowing 75 yards of total offense inn the second half as opposed to 74 in the first.

The dominance also allowed the offense to put its foot on the gas, exploding for 45 points in junior quarterback Brock Purdy’s best game of the season.

Sophomore running back Breece Hall’s day ended in another over 100 yard game, but Hall said that the defense meshing with the offense helped in the overall dominance.

“I feel like our defense comes out and plays well every weekend,” Hall said. “When our offense and our defense are on the same page and playing well at the same time, things like this will happen night in and night out.”

The Cyclones have shown consistency on the defensive end all season and its shown on the scoreboard, but Iowa State took it to another level Saturday, forcing three turnovers and shutting out a conference opponent that was just one game back of first place.

Leading the charge for the defense was junior linebacker Mike Rose.

Rose put together an all-around solid day with one sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry, seven total tackles and an interception.

The interception set the Cyclones up in favorable territory and was Rose’s fourth interception of the season.

“That dude is an animal,” senior defensive back Greg Eisworth said. “He plays like it, he prepares like it and you know he’s just all over the place.”

The other two turnovers came in the second half on back-to-back possessions.

Sophomore defensive end Will McDonald forced the first, knocking it out of Kansas State quarterback Nick Ast’s grip. Redshirt senior defensive end JaQuan Bailey recovered.

After a missed field goal, Kansas State got the ball back and on the first play of that drive, the Wildcats coughed it up again, this time forced by defensive end Zach Petersen. The second fumble was recovered by freshman Dae’Shawn Davis.

Iowa State clicked on every level, holding running backs and quarterbacks to just 76 yards each. Compared to Iowa State’s 26 first downs, Kansas State only had nine, three of which were picked up on its first offensive possession.

The offense for Iowa State played one of its better games of the year, but the shutout performance by the defense allowed the Cyclones to crush Kansas State’s Big 12 title hopes.