Iowa State’s second half makes up for a disastrous first 30 minutes

Iowa State running back Breece Hall celebrates after a touchdown run against Baylor. Hall ended with 133 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in Iowa State’s 38-31 win. 

Zane Douglas

In the first half of Saturday’s contest between Baylor and No. 17 Iowa State, Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy threw three interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, and the Cyclones were beaten by Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer numerous times down the field resulting in a 21-10 halftime score in Baylor’s favor.

Iowa State won the game 38-31.

A bad first half didn’t stop the Cyclones as their offense came alive for a dominant second half performance, giving them a narrow 38-31 win. The comeback was led by Purdy and sophomore running back Breece Hall.

“Anytime you turn the ball over three times, that’s never a positive,” Head Coach Matt Campbell said. “I just think it was a matter of re-centering, refocusing, getting back to fundamentals and technique and then coming back and really executing.”

The first half made it look like an uphill battle for the Cyclones, but Iowa State instead took over the momentum and scoreboard with ease, completely carving up Baylor’s defense. The second half onslaught gave Iowa State its fifth conference win and puts it in a favorable position at 5-2 on the season and 5-1 in the Big 12.

The biggest difference was the passing attack.

Purdy needed just one touchdown to break the all-time career passing touchdown record at Iowa State, but at halftime, Purdy didn’t have a touchdown pass — unless you count his third interception that was returned for a touchdown — and he looked lost on the field with many suspect throws and bad decisions.

Everything changed after the halftime intermission and Purdy became an offensive juggernaut alongside Hall, but Purdy credited the senior leaders of the team for stepping up.

“I just kept calm,” Purdy said. “I’m a faithful guy, so I believe that everything’s gonna happen for a reason and I’m gonna surrender to the outcome.”

In the run game, Hall did what he’s done all year.

The sophomore racked up 133 yards and was workhorse as he had 31 carries on the day. Hall added two rushing touchdowns, but also contributed in the passing game with two catches for 27 yards, including an 11 yard touchdown after wide receiver Landen Akers had a key blocked punt.

For the seventh game in a row, accounting for every game this season, Hall eclipsed the 100 yard mark and his contributions have been one of the main reasons Iowa State’s offense has succeeded this year.

No receivers jumped off the charts as Purdy dished out only 164 yards through the air, but eight different Cyclones made receptions.

The offense flowed smoothly with Hall and Purdy being the main driving forces. It didn’t go that smoothly in the first half, even with Hall being the force he has been all season.

Brock gave credit to a mentor and former Cyclone quarterback Kyle Kempt for helping him find his groove.

“He tells me ‘stay present, stay calm, we have so much to play for in the second half,’ and that’s what I did,” Purdy said.

At its worst, Iowa State was down 24-10 in the third quarter after a Greg Eisworth muffed punt resulted in three points for Baylor.

All the Cyclones did to answer that was score 28 straight points, taking the game from a two touchdown deficit to a two touchdown lead.

The poor performance from Purdy in the first half just set him up to drive the Cyclones back into the game.

“I thought [Brock] did a great job keeping his composure,” Campbell said. “[…] When you’re the quarterback man, hey, it’s not easy and you’ve gotta be a tough hombre and he’s about as tough as I know.”