Cyclones fight back, but couldn’t overcome mistakes in Cheez-It bowl defeat

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy surveys the Clemson defense during the 2021 Cheez-it Bowl in Orlando, Fla. No. 19 Clemson defeated Iowa State 20-13

Sam Stuve

ORLANDO — Trailing 20-3 late in the third quarter, Iowa State’s chances of coming back and beating No. 19 Clemson in the Cheez-It Bowl seemed bleak.

But with an interception by linebacker Jake Hummel, which led to a Andrew Mevis field goal, and a touchdown reception by tight end Charlie Kolar early in the fourth quarter, Iowa State found itself trailing by one possession and had the opportunity to tie it on the final drive.

On a 4th and 2 from their own 36 yard line with 40 seconds left in the game, the Cyclones initially had picked up the first down on a scramble by senior quarterback Brock Purdy.

However, Clemson defensive back Mario Goodrich forced a fumble, which Purdy recovered, but it was behind the line to gain, giving Clemson the ball and sealing the game 20-13.

The fumble/turnover-on-downs wasn’t the first mishaps of sorts for Iowa State Wednesday.

Down 13-3 with over four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Purdy had a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage back to him, which he then promptly tried to bat down to the ground, but instead fell into the hands of Goodrich and was returned for a pick six.

While at Iowa State, Purdy was a member of an Iowa State team that made it to it’s first ever Big 12 Championship Game, first ever New Year’s Six Game (and win), Iowa State’s best season ever (9-3 in 2020) and he owns 32 school records. 

But, he and the Cyclones didn’t finish the 2021 season with a win, which he said isn’t a great feeling but is still proud of all he’s accomplished at Iowa State. 

“Going out like this sucks, not gonna lie. But I can say I gave everything I got to this program, this team, to Ames and no one can take that away from us,” Purdy said.

With his four years as the starting quarterback at Iowa State, Purdy has made a name for himself. And with that in mind, Campbell said this one result should not define what Purdy has done for Iowa State.

“For me, a result doesn’t dictate what Brock Purdy has done for Iowa State,” Campbell said. “There was a lot of plays he did make out there today that were huge for our team to get back into football…there’s no greater competitor that I’ve been around.”

In the loss to Clemson, Iowa State struggled to get the offense going in the first half, only putting up three points. Iowa State got it going a bit in the second half scoring 10 points, but with the pick six and a rushing touchdown by Clemson’s Will Shipley, Clemson was able to win 20-13 in Orlando.

Iowa State, who was short-handed heading into the contest with running back Breece Hall, linebacker Mike Rose, center Colin Newell, as well as players who entered the transfer portal, played a game in which the team who made less mistakes would likely be the victor.

“I didn’t feel like you know, we were so out of rhythm at times you know, and I felt like we were able to do some things and we wanted to do them. I think when you look at it and some of the precision and detail on that side of the ball was maybe a hair off when we needed it,” Campbell said.

Iowa State was also out-gained 315-270, had eight penalties (four on offense) compared to Clemson’s five and lost the time of possession battle as well. 

“We know what it takes to win here at Iowa State. We say it all the time it comes down to the little details,” Purdy said. 

Purdy finished with 23 completions on 39 attempts for 204 yards, one touchdown, one interception, as well as 14 rushing yards. 

With this loss being possibly Purdy’s last game, he as well as some other seniors will now look to pass the torch to the younger Cyclones on the team.

Younger Cyclones who Purdy hopes can be apart of a program that learns from mistakes on Wednesday.

“I mean, a bunch of guys playing tonight, most of them are coming back next year. We got some great leaders, great guys to step up. And honestly, I think we’ve left it in the right spot where these young guys who are playing currently, this program, moving forward, will learn from our mistakes and hopefully make those corrections and win those one possession games,” Purdy said.

Iowa State finishes the 2021 season with a 7-6 record, and five of those six losses came by one possession. 

And with the 7-6 record, Iowa State has finished five consecutive seasons with a winning record, something which had never been done before.