Fake it to make it: Unheralded holder makes most of opportunity in the spotlight

Redshirt junior holder Austin Fischer and redshirt junior lineman Jamison Lalk celebrate after Fischer successfully faked a field-goal attempt on a fourth down to give the Cyclones a first down against West Virginia on Nov. 29 at Jack Trice Stadium. The Cyclones fell to the Mountaineers 37-24.

Alex Gookin

Kirby Van Der Kamp went down as one of the best punters in Iowa State history, but punting is only part of the reason why ISU fans will remember Van Der Kamp for decades to come. In what may be coach Paul Rhoads’ most under-appreciated quality, fake special teams plays, Van Der Kamp shined, converting on 7-of-7 fake punts.

With Van Der Kamp graduated and a freshman punter taking the reigns, there haven’t been many opportunities to fake a punt this season.

Enter Austin Fischer.

Down 27-24, Iowa State lined up for a field goal that would tie the game up on 4th and 4. But the ball never left kicker Cole Netten’s foot — because Fischer was running through a hole on the left side.

Led by a Jamison Lalk-block, Fischer charged an open left side and stumbled over West Virginia defender to get the first down on a five-yard run.

“When the call was made, I needed to make sure I knew where I was running to and that I had all I needed to do down,” Fischer said. “After that it was all kind of blank, and I just let it happen. Jamison made a hell of a block, so it was easy for me and then I just lowered my shoulder.”

The Ankeny, Iowa native is best known as Netten’s sidekick and former high school teammate. He was the forgotten variable in the game-winning Netten field goal in Iowa City over in-state rivals, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

But against West Virginia, Fischer cemented himself as the latest ISU special teams hero. The play didn’t result in points or a win for the Cyclones, but gave the team momentum it was desperately lacking for much of the 2014 season.

The play, which Fischer said is practiced weekly, was set up perfectly all game. Rhoads said the team was ready to pull it off twice earlier in the game, but the offense scored touchdowns on each drive. Down three points late in the game, Rhoads made the decision to go for it.

“I wanted a touchdown. I wanted to take the doggone lead,” Rhoads said. “[WVU] didn’t actually respond perfectly like we thought we’d get to convert it. It was a time to take the calculated risk at that point to give our football team a little kick in the tail.”

The reward was worth the risk, again, for Rhoads. The excited celebration from Fischer made it evident the unheralded holder is more than just a body on the field.

Given the chance to shine, Fischer did just that.

“I had to get a first down and that is all I needed to do,” Fischer said. “Four yards and an inch, that’s what the play got.”