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Iowa State Daily

Cyclone receiver room shines bright in 34-27 win over Oklahoma State

Daniel Jacobi II
Iowa State’s Daniel Jackson (16) celebrates with Rocco Becht (3) after scoring a touchdown during the first half of the football game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.

AMES — The Cyclone wide receiver room turned some heads in the team’s 34-27 win over Oklahoma State where they diced up the Cowboys’ secondary to the tune of six catches of over 20 yards.

It became clear in Iowa State’s matchup against Oklahoma State that they could not consistently rely on the run game, which forced quarterback Rocco Becht and the rest of the offense to make plays.

The Cyclone wide receiver room answered that call, and in a big way.

After sitting out the game against Ohio with an illness, Jaylin Noel was back in the starting lineup and had a career day which started with an explosive first half. Noel found all the right holes in the Cowboy secondary to make himself an easy target for Becht, which he hadn’t been able to do a lot in his first two starts this season.

It became clear on Iowa State’s third drive of the game that Noel would be a problem for the Cowboy’s defense. The drive started with a 30-yard connection between Becht and Noel, and four plays later finished with a wide-open 38-yard touchdown connection between the pair.

That touchdown catch from Noel came on fourth and three and was a surprising call to some, especially that early in the game, from head coach Matt Campbell.

Noel talked about what worked for him on that play and the feeling he had when he saw he was wide open for the score.

“The safety came down and the seam was wide open,” Noel said. “They were obviously playing the run on the fourth down so it was just an easy touchdown.”

The Cowboys’ defense focused on sending a ton of pressure up front, which meant fewer people to guard Noel who made his presence felt throughout the first half with his veteran route running.

At the end of the first half, Noel had seven catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, with three snags for over 30 yards. He added another 20-yard catch in the second half, and although he didn’t record another catch after that, he still finished with a career-high in receptions (8) and yards (146).

Becht talked about what it was like to have his veteran receiver back in the lineup and his confidence to continue this connection considering how talented Noel is.

“I think he [Noel] last week was a little down on himself because he wasn’t able to get in there,” Becht said. “When you see what he can do and when he comes out to play and is healthy he can do a lot of great things. He’s gonna be a great weapon for us this season.”

Daniel Jackson was the other half of the Cyclones’ dynamic duo that made a handful of big plays against the Cowboys’ secondary.

Jackson scored his first two touchdowns of his career, one in each half, with both coming on 25-plus yard throws from Becht. He described what it was like to have a breakout game against the Cowboys and how his mentality switched after his 26-yard grab in the third quarter.

“It feels amazing honestly,” Jackson said. “I got the first one and I didn’t think I was gonna get many more catches after that but then I got the second one and I thought ‘Now I’m here.’”

Jackson finished the game with six catches for 90 yards and the pair of touchdown catches.

Jackson hasn’t had the easiest experience through the first few years of his collegiate career. He’s dealt with injuries during his first two seasons which kept him off the field, and said that his main focus heading into his junior season was to be at 100%.

“Last year I kinda got dinged up for the season and it kinda put me out for the season,” Jackson said. “But this year I went into the season healthy and that was the difference.”

Campbell addressed Jackson’s amazing story, from what he described as a ‘near-death accident’ in high school and an injury-filled collegiate career, he commended his receiver for his mental toughness.

“He’s been injured two out of his three seasons and has had flashes of brilliance which have been taken away from injury,” Campbell said. “Mentally what that can do to an 18 to 22-year-old is paralyzing and for him to be so mentally tough and stay the course, I don’t know if I can be prouder or happier for a young man.”

The Cyclones hope to carry this production out of its receiving core into next week’s matchup on the road against Oklahoma, whose defense has not allowed a receiver to go for over 80 yards in a game this season.

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    Mike Swan | Sep 24, 2023 at 6:50 am

    Nice job on this article.