Defense stalls in overtime loss to Iowa

The Cyclones fell to the Hawkeyes 44-41 in one overtime.

Jack Macdonald

Perhaps it was Kamari Cotton-Moya’s injury that doomed Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk. Or, maybe it was the tackle that should have been, but never happened in Iowa’s 44-41 overtime win.

That’s what redshirt senior linebacker Joel Lanning used to describe the 46-yard touchdown pass Akrum Wadley caught late in the game — the touchdown pass that tied the game at 38.

“I missed that tackle on [Akrum] Wadley,” Lanning said. “It’s probably one of the biggest tackles of my career that I’ll have.”

Wadley caught the ball and ran to the outside, but once Lanning met him, Wadley eluded the former quarterback and scampered down field. Once down field, Wadley was able to pass players on Iowa State’s defense.

“Defensively, we did everything we could,” Lanning said. “We had them stopped. The offense put up a bunch of points for us and it just wasn’t our day.”

And, defensively, Iowa State certainly did everything that they could have to walk out of Jack Trice with a win in the Cy-Hawk game. From the start of the game, the Cyclones’ defense made it known that they were there to play.

On Iowa’s first offensive play of the game, redshirt senior Brian Peavy blew up Wadley in the backfield for a loss of three. The very next play Marcel Spears Jr. and Vernell Trent stuffed Wadley for no gain. Then, Joel Lanning tackled Wadley on a gain of three. That was a three-and-out for a defense that had been dubbed the weakness of Iowa State’s football team.

From that point on, Iowa was able to pick apart the defense with their potent rushing attack. Along with Wadley, Iowa also has James Butler and both were able to wear down the defense with a total of 38 rushing attempts between the two.

At times Wadley was able to expose the front seven, specifically. The junior finished his day with 118 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards for two touchdowns.

Despite losing the game, Marcel Spears asserted himself as a dominant player on a defense that needs someone to be the guy that can make big-time plays. Spears had a game-high 17 tackles and quite possible the three biggest tackles in the game, had the Cyclones held onto their lead.

“We became one,” Spears said of defense. “We’re playing as a team now, we’re communicating and I feel like we’re just talking to each other better.”

The Cyclones had just scored to cut Iowa’s lead to 21-17, which had Jack Trice buzzing. The very next drive, Spears had a tackle for a loss of three, a tackle for no gain and a tackle for a loss of three, consecutively. At that point Jack Trice was alive.

Very alive.

That was one of the last times the crowd was a factor. Just when the defense had came back to life, they evaporated into the sunny skies of Ames and didn’t come out to save the game.

It all came full circle for the defense on that Wadley touchdown and then in overtime. The constant running attack already had the defense on its heels and the overtime just continued that approach. 

“We get into overtime, but we just couldn’t make the final dagger play that you’re going to need to win the game,” Campbell said. “At the end of it, hats off to them, but I’m really proud of our kids in terms of their effort and their attitude.”

Effort wasn’t a problem for this Iowa State team as they clawed back from several deficits and fed from their defense at times. Nonetheless, this game goes down as a loss and another Cy-Hawk loss. The defensive showing that was put on the field today was levels above the performance Iowa State brought last year though.

After two in-state foes, the Cyclones travel to Akron, Ohio, for their first road test of the season, but more importantly the first road test for the inexperienced front seven of the defense that, at times, has showed glimpses of a bright future.

“I think you’re going to find out a lot about who we are and how we are able to respond [next weekend],” Campbell said. “I thought our team played as hard as we could, but you’re going to figure out a lot about who the Iowa State Cyclones are.”