The independent student newspaper of Iowa State and Ames since 1890

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

Iowa State Daily

A tale of two halves: Early defensive success does not fuel late stops

Joseph Dicklin
Joey Petersen of Iowa State tackling Texas QB Quinn Ewers during the Iowa State vs. Texas football game on Nov. 18, 2023 in Jack Trice Stadium.

AMES — A tale of two halves played out for Iowa State’s defense in its last home matchup of the season, as Texas took advantage of slip ups late in the game to come out on top 26-16.

Early on, it looked to be Iowa State’s day on defense, as Texas could not get anything going.

One drive went by and Texas was forced to punt. Although the Longhorns found some big plays in the middle of the field, they could not keep their drive alive.

One drive later, Iowa State’s defense put on the pressure again. Joey Petersen wrapped up Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers for a big sack.

Just a play later, Tyler Onyedim broke past the line to get Ewers on the ground again. The duo of sacks forced Texas to punt again.

“Definitely a big motivational thing,” Petersen said. “Sacks are hard to come by, so to get two is just a real remark.”

One drive later, the outcome was the same. However, it was not a sack that killed Texas’ drive, it was a batted pass.

Malik Verdon leapt up and nearly picked Ewer’s pass out of the air. What would have been a big first down was instead another Texas punt.

With one quarter of play done, Iowa State was in the lead 3-0. The defense did its job of keeping the offense in the game.

“That’s a really good Texas team,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “We had our opportunities.”

In the first quarter, Iowa State only gave up four first downs. The Cyclones also forced three punts and gave up just 56 total yards with seven being on the ground.

Throughout the first half, Texas had a slew of opportunities to get points on the board and build a big lead. However, the Cyclone defense stopped the Longhorns from running away with the game.

“Just staying active. I think that’s one of the things we’ve tried doing as a defensive line is just rushing and continuing to try to get to that quarterback,” Petersen said.

Joseph Dicklin

By the end of the first half, three Cyclones had sacks, with Petersen securing his second halfway through the second quarter. Iowa State’s defense was putting pressure on Ewers on nearly every play.

Jeremiah Cooper also came out on fire in his first game back. He nearly picked a ball on the first drive of the game, and punched out a ball of Xavier Worthy’s hands late in the first half to keep Texas off the board.

“You see [Cooper] come back and make some great plays,” Campbell said about the defense’s strong first half.

Cooper’s presence was felt, as was the rest of the defense.

The defense as a whole was stopping Texas at every turn. The offense had all the opportunities in the world to keep the game tight and even pull out an upset win.

Through 30 minutes of play, the Longhorns led 6-3. Iowa State still had a chance to topple the top team in the Big 12 thanks to the defense.

“Making those plays in the moment,” Beau Freyler said. “We had that big turnover, and then just winning on third down.”

However, as the second half started up, it was clear that Texas was done playing around.

Despite the defense’s first half dominance, Texas looked like an entirely new team going into the second half. Whatever weights were holding the Longhorns down were gone.

Instead of punt after punt, it was score after score. Texas had Iowa State’s defense figured out.

“We just never played in the flow,” Campbell said. “When we’re at our best, we’re playing really good complimentary football. We never had that much tonight.”

It was a tale of two halves, and Texas won the second half more than Iowa State won the first.

Texas’ first drive of the second half went for 91 yards on nine plays and resulted in a 23-yard touchdown pass over the top of the entire defense. Ewers connected on four of his five passes for over 50 yards.

CJ Baxter ripped off runs consistently throughout the second half. Baxter rushed the ball 34 yards down the field during the first touchdown drive.

Joseph Dicklin

“We gave up some freebies to them,” Freyler said. “It comes down to our execution.”

However, Iowa State’s offense made up for the defense’s mistakes. The Cyclones got a touchdown to cut the gap.

Then one Cyclone drive later, Rocco Becht made his first mistake of the day, throwing an interception late in the third quarter. That pick led to another big drive for Texas.

“You never want to turn the ball over, but again, you gotta make a play on defense, right?” Campbell said. “We gotta stop them.”

Iowa State’s defense could not get a stop again, as Texas cruised to a touchdown off a wide-open pass on the sideline from Ewers. In only three plays, Texas extended its lead to two scores.

One drive later, the Longhorns drove 56 yards down the field for another field goal. Despite Iowa State’s efforts on offense to stay in the game, the defense was crumbling against Texas’ stout offense.

“Games against teams like this, teams of this caliber, come down to a couple of critical plays,” Freyler said. “If you make those plays in the moment, you put yourself in a position to win. If you can’t, it’s hard to come back from that.”

With time running out in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones were down by 10 points. There was time on the clock for a comeback, but the stops still were not coming to the defense.

The magic that Iowa State had early on was all gone, as Texas cruised to a 26-16 victory. Although Iowa State got stops early on, the Cyclones could not get stops when it mattered the most.

“We still didn’t get a stop. We never got the stop tonight,” Campbell said. “We were never able to get the stop when we needed to get the stop.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Iowa State Daily
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of the Iowa State Daily. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, send our student journalists to conferences and off-set their cost of living so they can continue to do best-in-the-nation work at the Iowa State Daily.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Joseph Dicklin, Author
Donate to Iowa State Daily
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Iowa State Daily Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *