Disastrous third quarter dooms Iowa State in loss to Iowa

Brock Purdy (left) and Xavier Hutchinson (right) stand on the sideline during the Cyclones 27-17 loss to Iowa on Saturday.

Sam Stuve

AMES — Down 14-10 with just over 12 minutes left in the third quarter, a 42 yard punt from Iowa State punter Corey Dunn and a third down Will McDonald sack, Iowa was forced to punt from its own six yard line.

While obviously no one knew it at that time, that ensuing punt would be the beginning of a dominant third quarter for No.10 Iowa and helped propel the visitors to victory in Saturday’s Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game in Ames. 

Starting with that Iowa punt by Tory Taylor, everything went downhill for Iowa State and would lead to Iowa States’ eventual 27-17 loss to No. 10 Iowa.

“I really felt confident that we were in a great spot coming out in the second half,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “We put together a decent drive, get it out to midfield. Then boom, the tide swings in the other way and we just have never had the ability to recover.”

On that punt with 10:25 left in the third quarter, Taylor booted the punt 69 yards, that if caught would’ve given the Cyclones decent field position, but ended up knocking Iowa State back all the way to its own 25 yard line. 

“I think a huge play in that game, obviously, is that ball, dropping and we lose about 30 yards on the punt,” Campbell said. “It was a critical error and unfortunately, we saw that last week.” 

Iowa’s stifling defense then knocked Iowa State back to its own 13 yard line.

“Our plan coming out of halftime was to come out and score,” Iowa State wide receiver Tarique Milton said. “I felt like it was a lack of detail and execution. They played sound defense, they were disciplined and they were just more disciplined than we were.”

On the ensuing kick return, wide receiver Charlie Jones, who already had one touchdown on the day, took the punt return 24 yards and set up the Iowa offense with the ball at Iowa State’s 43 yard line. 

That then led to a 51 yard field goal from kicker Caleb Shudak. 

Things then went from bad to worse for Iowa State, as the next three offensive possessions it had resulted in turnovers. 

First it was a fumble by running back Breece Hall, which was scooped up by Iowa’s Jack Campbell for a touchdown.

The next two drives resulted in interceptions, with the first being off of a pass that went between the hands of wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson and into the hands of Iowa linebacker Seth Benson, who ran it back to the Iowa State 25 yard line.

Lastly, Iowa State was driving the ball down the field down 14 late in the third quarter, when Iowa defensive end Joe Evans tipped a Purdy pass that was picked off by Matt Hankins, his second interception of the day, and returned 41 yards to the Iowa State 22 yard line. 

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz said the game opened up for them (Iowa) in the third quarter. 

“It was during the third quarter, there’s no secret formula, we play defense the way we play it,” Ferentz said. “It was a tough game, they’re a tough team.”

Purdy finished his day completing just 13 of his 27 passes for just 138 yards and three thrown interceptions. Backup quarterback Hunter Dekkers was put in the game, down 27-10 with 13 minutes left.

The Hawkeyes forced three turnovers, three of which came in the third quarter.

“To me turnovers are usually the result of someone being where they’re supposed to be but then sometimes you make an extra effort,” Ferentz said.

While Iowa State’s offense struggled for most of the second half, it was really the last 10 minutes of the third quarter that seemed to do them in.

“I told our team, when we played really great in these moments, during our tenure here, we’ve had great calm, we’ve had great clarity to do our job and most importantly, we had great execution. Unfortunately, I would tell you, we didn’t have that today. when that doesn’t occur, it really comes back to the head football coach and his responsibility, how you prepared your team to be ready for those moments or for those opportunities,” Campbell said. 

Meanwhile, Iowa State’s defense was holding its own against Iowa’s offense. 

Iowa’s offense netted just eight yards in the third quarter. That stat is surprising, considering they put up 10 points.

Instead of their offense doing the scoring, it was the Hawkeyes defense and special teams that scored and set up the field goals by Shudak.

While Iowa State’s offense struggled with miscues, it actually out-gained Iowa 339 to 173, but the four turnovers it had, along with other special teams blunders, that caused the home team to fall to their Cy-Hawk rival for the sixth straight year. 

Struggling in the third quarter has been a bit of a trend for Iowa State in recent games, even going back to a season ago. 

In the third quarters of their last three games (including the 2021 Fiesta Bowl), Iowa State has scored a mere three points combined.  

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes defense held the Cyclones scoreless in the third quarter and to just 41 yards, which overshadowed how dominant the Cyclones defense was in the third quarter. 

The Cyclones did score a touchdown late on a 13-yard pass from Dekkers to Milton, but it was too little too late and the Hawkeyes increased their winning streak against the Cyclones to six and their road winning streak against the Cyclones to five.