Cyclone defense shows up late to secure a win over Kansas State

Senior linebacker Willie Harvey tackles one of Baylor’s players to the ground during the game against Baylor on Nov. 10 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones beat the Bears 28-14.

Trevor Holbrook

Iowa State fans filed out of Jack Trice Stadium while chanting “Cyclone! Power!.” The fans had just witnessed Iowa State knock off Kansas State, 42-38, snapping a 10-game losing streak against the Wildcats.

The win came in large part because of Iowa State’s strong defensive performance in the first and fourth quarter, but it wasn’t always pretty in between.

“We were all over the place [on defense], and I don’t know why it’s felt that way for the last two games,” said coach Matt Campbell. “Whether we’ve worn down — obviously, we’ve battled by some injury — but what was so fun to watch was when we needed it the most, the guys that really have led the way the entire time stepped up and made huge plays.”

In the fourth quarter, the Cyclones sacrificed a 4-yard passing touchdown from Skylar Thompson to Isaiah Zuber to cap off a 9-play, 52-yard drive.

From then on, Iowa State’s defense flashed, assisting the offense to a comeback win.

After the Zuber touchdown, redshirt senior linebacker Willie Harvey blitzed off the edge and drilled Thompson, allowing freshman linebacker Mike Rose to return the ball for a touchdown. The Cyclones cut Kansas State’s lead to 38-35.

“It was big,” said junior running back David Montgomery, who tallied 149 yards rushing and three scores. “Mike Rose, again. The whole defense just being able to continue to turn when things weren’t looking up, so Mike comes up big.

“He prepares — it’s crazy we have so many freshmen that are playing right now that prepare so well.”

While Harvey executed his job of forcing a turnover, the veteran linebacker kept a simple mindset on the game-changing play.

“I just hit him as hard as I could,” Harvey said. 

Down three points, the Cyclones needed to churn out another stop to grant the offense another opportunity. 

The Wildcat offense stalled, going three and out with five yards on the drive. Iowa State answered with a 6-play, 69-yard drive that ended with one of Montgomery’s touchdowns.

As Kansas State has done so many times to Iowa State, it looked like a perfect time for a methodical touchdown drive, defeating the Cyclones late in the game.

The Iowa State defense ran onto the field, looking for one more stop. The Cyclones stood tall on a third-and-1 when junior lineman Ray Lima stuffed Alex Barnes.

Barnes bounced back on fourth-and-1, ripping off a 20-yard run and pushing the line of scrimmage to midfield. 

Kansas State tacked on three yards, but the Wildcats faced a fourth-and-7 from Iowa State’s 47-yard line. 

Bill Snyder couldn’t find any late-game magic, and Thompson tossed an incompletion to turn the ball over on downs. The Cyclones iced the win. 

The defense finished the game in a clutch manner, but it also helped dig Iowa State’s deficit.

After a shutout first quarter, the usually-quiet Wildcat offense exploded for 21 points in the second quarter and 10 more in the third quarter. 

“We knew we needed a spark,” Harvey said about being down 17 in the fourth quarter. “Many of the fans thought it was over probably, but we knew — we believed in ourselves, and I’m glad to be the one to spark the plug and finish it off the right way.”