Warren, Pierson reach milestones Saturday amid heartbreaking loss

Freshman Mike Warren runs towards the endzone during the game against Oklahoma State University on Nov. 14. The Cyclones would go on to lose 31-35.  

Ryan Young

It brought something to Jack Trice Stadium that many hadn’t seen in a long time.

For a majority of Saturday’s game, Iowa State (3-7, 2-5 Big 12) led No. 5 Oklahoma State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12), bringing an excitement to the air.

The Cyclones were going to pull it off. It seemed they were going to knock off the fifth-ranked team in the country — one that is poised to earn a bid to the College Football Playoff.

But Oklahoma State drove the length of the field late in the fourth quarter, scoring a go-ahead touchdown to win the game 35-31.

It was over. The Cyclones had lost.

“It stings a little bit for me because it’s my last home game, the last time I’ll ever play in Jack Trice,” said senior defensive end Dale Pierson. “I know that we all went out there and gave it our all, it’s just how the outcome of the game went.”

Only two games remain on the schedule for the Cyclones this season. Yet with only three wins so far on the year, Iowa State is no longer eligible for postseason play.

And while it may seem that there isn’t a whole lot to play for, Rhoads said that isn’t the case — that these next two games mean a lot more than just a win or a loss.

“The next two weeks, in a large part, will shape a great deal of [the players’ lives] about how they respond,” Rhoads said. “Because how they’ll respond in the next two weeks is how they’ll respond for a lifetime in tough hard situations.”

Even though it was a difficult circumstance at Jack Trice Stadium, at least two meaningful accomplishments came out of Saturday’s loss to the Cowboys.

Entering the game, running back Mike Warren sat at 997 rushing yards on the season, just three short of the milestone he has been chasing all year. And on the first drive of the game, as expected, Warren eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards on the season, becoming the first Cyclone to do so since Alexander Robinson in 2009.

“It means as much to me as it means to the O-line,” Warren said. “Working this whole season season, this whole grind for that one mark, it’s all worth it. And I thank those guys a lot for helping me get there.”

Warren, who has continuously praised the offensive line all season for his success, now said that he will treat the linemen to dinner as a thank you for their part in his record-breaking performance.

Where, though, he isn’t quite sure.

“We’ll have to discuss it tomorrow,” Warren said.

The second milestone Saturday came from Pierson.

Pierson, or the Sack Mamba as he is sometimes known, recorded a sack that brought his season total to 8.5 — tying the ISU single-season school record.

“I tied it though, so my name is up there,” Pierson said. “But I want to pass it.”

Pierson will have two games left to break the ISU record, something he believes he can accomplish.

But even though the Cyclones lost this weekend, Pierson said it isn’t as bad when looking at the bigger picture. He’s finding the positives — as that’s all you can do in a situation like this.

“We lost the game, but knowing that [Oklahoma State] went out and beat an opponent like TCU, that definitely lets us know that we’re better than our record shows,” Pierson said.