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Cyclones unable to sustain drives on offense, fall to Iowa

Rocco+Becht+in+the+pocket+against+Iowa+at+Jack+Trice+Stadium+on+Sept.+9%2C+2023.
Tyler Coe
Rocco Becht in the pocket against Iowa at Jack Trice Stadium on Sept. 9, 2023.

AMES — The Cyclones took on Iowa Saturday in the annual Cy-Hawk matchup. The Cyclones eventually fell to the Hawkeyes by a score of 20-13 as they could not get many things going throughout the game.

The Iowa State offense had many chances to overtake the Hawkeyes in the match but did not find a way as it could not continue to make the most of its few successful drives on offense.

Quarterback Rocco Becht looked to continue his performance from the win against Northern Iowa, but could not improve upon his play as he threw his first interception of the season that ended up being returned for a touchdown.

Becht’s final stat line for the day was 23 completed passes out of 44 passes thrown for 203 yards. He also had one touchdown and an interception.

Iowa State did start off the game on a good note, as Becht led a 15-play, 57-yard drive that set up kicker Chase Contreraz to get the first points of the game on the board.

That ended up not being the case as the kick was blocked by Iowa defensive lineman Logan Lee keeping the game knotted up at zero early on.

The next few drives for Iowa State were not something of note as they combined to only get two first downs throughout the majority of the first half.

Multiple punts were forced by the Iowa defense that was capped off by the interception returned for a touchdown by Iowa defensive back Sebastian Castro.

“They’re fundamentally sound,” Becht said. “They’re disciplined and they don’t make a lot of mistakes, so trying to find those creases was pretty tough.”

The final drive of the first half however showed some promise as Becht led the offense to their first points of the game. He led an 11-play drive that went for 51 yards capped off by a successful 42-yard kick by Chase Contreraz.

The offensive struggles, however, did not all come from Becht’s play. The Cyclone receivers struggled to haul in many catches from Becht which caused the Cyclones to stall out on many of their drives.

Coming into the second half, the first two drives resulted in punts as the Cyclones gained only a single first down, showing no promise of a potential comeback.

From the two drives following, Iowa State seemed to show some life by scoring two straight times, the first being a field goal and the second being a touchdown.

The touchdown drive more specifically brought new life into the Cyclones as they went 14 plays for 80 yards that led to a 16-yard pass from Becht to wide receiver Jayden Higgins on a fourth-and-nine that quickly reduced Iowa’s lead.

Higgins had himself a big day finishing the day with eight receptions for 95 yards and the eventual late touchdown catch. Higgins feels as if he didn’t play at his best despite the stats saying otherwise.

“I feel like I played alright,” Higgins said. “I left a lot of plays out there, and I felt like I could do a lot better.”

The Cyclones had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter thanks to their defense holding Iowa to a three-and-out, forcing them to punt.

However, a potential comeback fell short as Iowa swallowed up a fourth-and-one run to close out the game for good.

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell thought the team played well, even considering the loss. Campbell felt that it was small things that went wrong and cost the team the game at the end and not from the overall play of his team.

“I think when you look back on a couple of those drives… you’re a hair off,” Campbell said. “It’s either a decision there or a drop here. Man, I didn’t feel like it was a lack of execution.”

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