David Montgomery: A guiding light for Cyclones’ upset

Running Back David Montgomery Runs down the sideline during the 2nd half of the ISU vs WV Game Oct. 13. Iowa State Defeated West Virginia 14-30

Noah Rohlfing

David Montgomery’s status for Saturday’s game against No. 6 West Virginia was uncertain as of Wednesday. 

After missing the Cyclones’ road victory over Oklahoma State due to an arm injury suffered late in a loss to TCU, Montgomery started Saturday’s game looking to make up for lost time. 

What he did instead was kickstart a historic upset under the lights for the Cyclones. 

With a career-high 189 yards on 29 carries and a 2-yard score, Montgomery was the straw that stirred Iowa State’s drink. Whenever the Cyclones needed a big play, No. 32 always seemed to be there. 

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell sounded unsurprised by Montgomery’s breakout night. 

“David was David tonight,” Campbell said. “I thought he really got into a good rhythm early in the game.”

Montgomery really got going with a 37-yard scamper late in the first quarter in a fourth-and-1 situation, the longest run from scrimmage for any Iowa State player this season. 

The next play, Iowa State scored on a pass from freshman Brock Purdy to Hakeem Butler to tie the game up. 

From there, the Cyclones were off and running. 

Butler, who has said many times how much pride he takes in his blocking, was at a loss for words, calling Montgomery “the best player in the country.”

“You can’t compete with the best player in the country,” Butler said. “At this point, nobody really knows what to say. He’s incredible.”

By the end of the first quarter, Montgomery had 81 yards on eight carries and a touchdown. The junior sat out the beginning of the second quarter as the Cyclones cycled through Kene Nwangwu and Sheldon Croney Jr., giving Montgomery a brief respite. 

Once Montgomery began to break tackles and draw the Mountaineers’ attention, the Cyclones opened up the passing game and held a 20-14 lead heading into the break. Montgomery was largely corraled in the second, with only 13 yards on four carries. 

The Cyclones’ running game was working on all fronts, with Nwangwu and Purdy both adding 20-plus yards on the ground in the opening 30 minutes. 

As the second half began, Montgomery started breaking runs at the boundaries, thanks in part to the blocking of the Cyclones’ wideouts. 

Junior Deshaunte Jones said Montgomery keeps the blockers guessing as well as the opponent. 

“You’ve gotta block literally the whole play, because you never know where he’s gonna be,” Jones said. 

As the second half wore on, the Cyclones continued to rely on their ground game to put West Virginia on its heels, and Montgomery crept closer to his career-high of 169 yards — achieved in the 2016 game against Kansas.

Tight end Charlie Kolar gave credit to Montgomery for setting the pace for Iowa State’s offense and for his elusiveness. 

“That dude’s a freak, like God created him in a lab or something,” Kolar said. “He’s one heck of a player.”

On a fourth-and-5 at the Mountaineers’ 22, with one minute left and the game no longer in doubt at 30-14, Iowa State could have easily punted the ball away and let West Virginia run the game out. 

Instead, the Cyclones handed it off to Montgomery one last time. After a gain of 20 and a kneel from Purdy, the fans hit the field and yet another top-10 opponent had fallen victim to Iowa State in October. 

Montgomery got his career-high, but he wasn’t worried about the yards following the game. 

“The rushing yards, that’s cool and all,” Montgomery said. “But that’s forgotten about. This win won’t be.”