McDonald sets sack record, D-Line dominates in win over Texas

Will McDonald struts into the end-zone after Texas was called for a penalty in the Cyclones’ 30-7 win on Nov. 6. 

Sam Stuve

History was made on Saturday, a night where Iowa State’s defensive line demolished the Texas offensive line.

What’s the significance that was made in Iowa State’s 30-7 win over Texas? Allow Will McDonald to introduce himself if you don’t know already.

Will McDonald IV passed his former teammate JaQuan Bailey on Iowa State’s all-time career sack list on Saturday at 27.5 career sacks. 

“I am honored to break this record because he is the one who got me here,” McDonald said in the postgame press conference.

He said he’ll probably hear from Bailey tonight or give him a call later on in the week ahead.

Coming into Saturday’s contest, McDonald was at 25 sacks, a half sack short of tying Bailey’s record and full one from breaking it.

He tied the record with a half a sack that he was credited with at the 7:09 mark of the first quarter. 

And then, on a third down play with Iowa State up 10 and a little over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter, McDonald broke free and sacked Texas quarterback Hudson Card to break the Iowa State career sack record.

With another sack late in third quarter, McDonald sits alone on top of the record books.

But that wouldn’t be possible without Bailey, McDonald said. 

“I’m happy that I was here to have JaQuan as a teammate because he taught me mostly everything I know,” McDonald said. 

McDonald tied with Jake Hummel for a team-high six tackles, along with his 2.5 sacks, one pass break up and one forced fumble.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell gave a lot of credit to Bailey and said McDonald’s relentlessness allowed him to break the record.

“I think it says a lot about Will’s ability, I think it says a lot about, you know, Will’s God-given opportunities to continue to be the best version of himself and man, he’s getting double-teamed, he’s getting chipped, the protection is siding his way and for his ability to still get to the quarterback, man it really is about being relentless,” Campbell said. 

Throughout the offseason and even into this season, McDonald has been described as a “freak” by players such as Enyi Uwazuirke and O’Rien Vance.

And wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson, as well as probably the entire team and coaching staff, have similar thoughts as well. 

“Will is a freak of nature. I’ve never seen anybody else his size move like he does,” Hutchinson said. 

McDonald’s 2.5 sacks tied for a team-high on the night with Uwazurike.

Uwazurike and McDonald led the Cyclone defense in the effort to make life difficult for the Texas offensive line when it mattered most. 

This includes three third down sacks, three third down QB pressures and a forced intentional grounding.

And it wasn’t just a one man effort in the eyes of Campbell.

“I think our defensive line has played to a standard of excellence all year and I think Enyi has been phenomenal, he was incredible again tonight. Isaiah Lee is playing great football for this team, he was incredible for us tonight,” Campbell said. “It was huge for us to get some other guys to step up, like, we needed that.” 

The Longhorns were just 5-16 on third down attempts against the Cyclones defense. 

Iowa State’s five sacks is the most it has ever had in a game against Texas. And five sacks is the most that Iowa State has had all season and the most it has had since Oct. 31, 2020, when it had five sacks against Kansas.

The five-sack outing comes on the heels of being held without a sack in the 38-31 loss to West Virginia the week prior. 

“You just have to come up and come after their [offensive] line. We didn’t do so well last week, we didn’t have like no pressure at all,” McDonald said. “So like this week, we stepped up as a defense and as a defensive line to create some pressure and create some sacks.”

The Cyclones defense was lightyears better overall on Saturday than it was a week ago when it gave up 38 points and 492 yards to the Mountaineer offense.

The Longhorns had just 207 yards of offense, 78 of which came on their lone scoring drive midway through the second half. 

207 yards is the lowest amount it has mustered up since Oct. 31, 2015, ironically against Iowa State. 

On both sides of the ball in the second half, the Cyclones dominated, outscoring the Longhorns 27-0 in the second half and out-gaining them 276-89. 

The third quarter was especially dominant, the Cyclones offense scored 21 points and gained 209 yards.

How many yards did Texas have on offense in the third quarter? Six, just six. 

And the catalyst for the Cyclones defensive showcase on Saturday throughout all quarters was the defensive line, Hummel said.

“They were incredible, they were incredible on defense, they were the catalysts on defense for sure. I mean, those guys get pressures off a three-man rush a lot of the times, like that’s huge for us in coverage and on the back end, so we’re able to cover guys pretty well. And give credit to the D-line for sure for this game,” Hummel said. 

Iowa State’s defense also created two turnovers on Saturday, the first of which was created by defensive back Isheem Young on the first play of the game and the last of which was created by defensive lineman Tucker Robertson, which then led Iowa State to drive down the field and put up one more field goal to win 30-7.