Wildcats have Cyclones’ number in physical 27-17 win


Garrett Heyd/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State defensive end Will McDonald rushes the back field to force the sack against the University of Kansas on Nov. 23, 2019. 

Noah Rohlfing

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Iowa State got off to as bad a start as one could possibly imagine Saturday night in the Northeast Kansas winds of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. 

A 93-yard kickoff return from Kansas State true freshman Joshua Youngblood gave the Wildcats a perfect start, and put the Cyclones twisting in the wind before they had even played a down of offense or defense.

The rest of the Cyclones’ 27-17 loss wasn’t easy, either. Much like many recent games in this rivalry, the game was in the balance until the final quarter. In the end, the Kansas State ground attack was too much for the Cyclones — and for the 10th time in 11 seasons, the Wildcats took home the win in ‘Farmageddon.’ 

“I felt like on a night like tonight the more physical team was going to win the game,” coach Matt Campbell said postgame. “They did it and we didn’t. The reality is that they did what they needed to do to win the game and we didn’t.”

The Cyclones were trailing 14-0 midway through the second quarter after a 98-yard, seven-minute drive in which the Wildcats took control of the line of scrimmage and ran the ball effectively — a consistent recipe for success for first-year coach Chris Klieman’s team. 

The tide turned for a bit after the Cyclones converted a fourth-and-13 at the Kansas State 26, a play Campbell said the Cyclones needed because they were heading into the wind and were not in reasonable field goal range. 

A 13-yard pass to La’Michael Pettway led to a Brock Purdy touchdown pass to Sean Shaw one play later, and the deficit was cut in half. 

Purdy had a difficult night facing the conditions and a blitz-heavy Kansas State defense, going 15-for-30 for 185 yards and one touchdown and turning into a non-factor on the ground (-3 yards on five carries). 

The Cyclones also failed to convert two Wildcat turnovers — one a Will McDonald strip-sack, the other a Greg Eisworth interception — into more than a 36-yard field goal from Connor Assalley. Those turnovers came in the early third quarter, and from there Iowa State’s offense was left in a lurch.

McDonald said the Wildcats had the edge in some areas.

“We really just messed up on details in that area,” McDonald said. 

More three-and-outs turned into more possessions for Kansas State to assert control over the game. The Cyclones committed six false start penalties and had eight penalties overall totaling 55 yards. 

With the first drive of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats used their physicality to their advantage and took the lead on a four-minute, 28-second drive covering 53 yards. Jordon Brown ran it in from 15 yards to complete the drive. The Wildcats had 231 net rushing yards as a team.

Campbell said he was frustrated with the Cyclones’ lack of detail.

“Our whole team had good moments and bad moments,” Campbell said. “The bad moments were the ones that don’t allow you to win games like this.”

The next kickoff, Iowa State lost tight end Dylan Soehner to a leg injury. Soehner has been key to the Cyclones’ success in the run game this season. Campbell said Soehner will miss the team’s bowl game and undergo surgery, with an estimated return timetable of eight-to-10 weeks. 

After the Cyclones failed to convert on a fourth-down in Kansas State territory, the Wildcats bully-balled their way down into the red zone for a field goal to make it a two-possession game and seal the victory. 

After all of the early expectations, the Cyclones ended the regular season with a record of 7-5 and in a four-way tie for third in the Big 12. The message after the game? They only have themselves to blame. 

“We made a lot of our own mistakes and they capitalized,” Eisworth said. “They are a great football team.”