Cyclones air it out to beat Kansas

Wide receiver Hakeem Butler plows past Akron’s players during the ISU vs. Akron game on Sept. 22 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones won 26-13.

Aaron Marner

Hakeem Butler slowed his sprint to a stop as he turned around to face Brock Purdy’s underthrown deep ball.

Butler timed his jump a little late. The ball came down at Kansas’ Hasan Defense’s head, but Defense was beat. The 6-foot-6 Butler reached behind Defense’s helmet and grabbed the ball, pinning it to his body with his left hand and shoving Defense aside with his right arm.

He turned upfield, jumped over the diving Defense and leapt into the end zone for his second touchdown in eight minutes, giving Iowa State a 14-0 lead over Kansas.

“I just made a play on the ball,” Butler said. “Brock underthrew it, a rarity for him, but I just had to go make a play on it.”

The win itself wasn’t pretty. But thanks to Butler, Purdy and Iowa State’s passing attack, the Cyclones (5-3, 4-2 Big 12) won their fourth-straight game in a 27-3 win over Kansas (3-6, 1-5 Big 12).

“Give credit to Hakeem,” said coach Matt Campbell. “He certainly has been a guy that, when we’ve needed him the most this season, has stepped up and made big plays. I know he’s really straining to be the most consistent player he can be.”

Butler reeled in two catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns — one for 51 yards, the other for 83 — in the first quarter. Those points set the tone for the rest of the game. Iowa State led the entire way and Kansas was held without a touchdown against Iowa State for the second-straight year.

Iowa State settled into a slower pace after those two scores, choosing possession and ball control over the potential of big plays. Purdy and Butler’s connection was a big reason for that.

“Both those guys, we’re gonna need them down the stretch to be consistent,” Campbell said. “Really proud of both of them, I think they’re doing a great job.”

In the second half, Butler was mostly silent.

He was held to five catches for 164 yards total, meaning he had three catches for 30 yards after his strong first quarter. But Purdy was able to hook up with Deshaunte Jones, Tarique Milton, Landen Akers and Matthew Eaton for 11 more passes totaling 99 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown pass to Eaton.

Those four stepped up after Butler faced double-teams and safety help over the top after his strong start. Butler also had a drop on what would have been a first down, so the added production from the rest of the receiving corps kept drives alive.

“I just try and have fun out there,” Butler said. “If I’m down, I’m not having fun.”

Even the defense admitted to looking up at the field when the offense was out there. Redshirt senior cornerback Brian Peavy said he caught himself staring at the offense a few times.

“We’ve got some explosive guys,” Peavy said. “Purdy [steals] the show with the fake passes but Hakeem will come out with explosive plays as well.

“They’re all fun to watch … they’re all capable of making plays.”

Still, Butler and Campbell said there’s still work to do. The offense was held to seven points in the second half and only 15 total yards of offense in the final quarter. Iowa State also was held to only 4-of-13 on third-down conversions.

“There’s a lot of work to do, and we know that,” Campbell said. “The great thing is, so does the leadership in that locker room.”