Cyclone comeback falls short, No. 19 Clemson wins Cheez-It Bowl

Iowa State is ready for what’s ahead in 2022 and beyond.

James Powell

Iowa State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) traveled down to Orlando to take on the No. 19 Clemson Tigers (9-3, 6-2 ACC) in hopes of ending its season on a high note.

The Cyclones would try and do so without their All-American tailback, Breece Hall, as well as defensive star Mike Rose and a multitude of transfers that left the program before the bowl game.

Matt Campbell and company have competed in five-straight bowl games, the school’s best streak. 

It was a battle of kickers for the first 30 minutes, as the teams attempted five total field goals. Clemson converted two of three and the Cyclones knocked just one of two through and were down 6-3 at halftime.

The story for Iowa State early was their passing game, specifically in the play-action. It led to big plays for Xavier Hutchinson, Charlie Kolar and Jaylin Noel respectively. Purdy started 9-15 for 112 passing yards in total.

Jirehl Brock had eight rushes for 27 yards in the first half stepping in for Hall. Deon Silas also added a rush for eight yards.

It was a balanced attack for the Tigers, as they had enough success running and passing the ball with a new offensive coordinator. DJ Uiagalelei completed 15 of his 24 first-half passes for 145 yards.

The second half started with a familiar sight for the Cyclone offense, a quick three-and-out. Clemson then put together a 16 play, 79-yard drive that took up seven and a half minutes of game time to go up 13-3 late in the third quarter. 

Things went from bad to worse quickly for Iowa State, as they got backed up to the shadow of their own end zone thanks to a couple of penalties and then a deflected pass pinballed its way into a defensive touchdown for Clemson to go up 20-3 in what was once a low-scoring, defensive battle.

The Cyclones got three points off a Jake Hummel interception. They gained zero yards off the turnover, but were set up well to at least convert a field goal.

A trick play almost spelled trouble for the Cyclones after they got the ball back down 20-6 going into the final frame. Jaylin Noel failed to execute a double-pass to Chase Allen and was intercepted, but a roughing-the-passer call nullified the interception and Iowa State continued to drive.

They drove all the way to a Charlie Kolar touchdown reception, and the gap was closed to just seven with 9:42 left in the fourth quarter. It was Kolar’s sixth touchdown of the year and 23rd of his lengthy Cyclone career.

The Cyclones ended up needing two defensive stops to get the ball back to the offense with 1:52 remaining, 90 yards to go and down by seven points.

They were stifled once again and fumbled their hopes of a second consecutive bowl victory, falling to the Tigers by a final score of 20-13.

Iowa State was unable to mount the 17-point comeback and falls to 7-6 in their 2021 campaign.