AMES – The detail that Iowa State coach Matt Campbell constantly preaches about was absent for the first half of Iowa State’s 20-16 loss at West Virginia.
Iowa State quarterback Kyle Kempt threw an interception, tight end Chase Allen was called for an offensive pass interference and Iowa State’s secondary gave up two 50+ pass plays. All within the first 20 minutes of the game.
“We have to be effective in situational football – I’ve said that from the start of the season,” Campbell said in the post-game press conference. “We can’t put ourselves in tough situations and in the first half we did a couple of times.”
West Virginia put up 20 points in the first 23:47 of the game.
At the half it was 20-3 and it looked like Iowa State, which went undefeated in the month of October, beating two top-5 teams, was going to get brought back down to earth.
But Iowa State got its details back in order, for the most part, and tried to come back in the game.
“I thought situationally we were a lot better in the second half, both offensively and defensively,” Campbell said. “I give so much credit to our kids. They just kept fighting and kept playing.”
The Cyclones set the tone for what the rest of the game would be in the first drive of the second half. Iowa State took advantage of a West Virginia facemask penalty and eventually Kempt found start receiver Allen Lazard in the end zone to cut West Virginia’s lead to 20-10.
Iowa State’s defense largely played mistake-free football in the second half. It contained West Virginia running back Justin Crawford and didn’t allow the deep ball.
That allowed the Cyclones to get the chances it needed to come back in the game.
Iowa State had an opportunity to score another touchdown later in the third quarter when the Cyclones were aided by 30 yards of penalties on one play. Iowa State eventually found itself on the one-yard line.
The Cyclones tried a running play with Kyle Kempt and David Montgomery but neither was successful. Campbell elected to kick a field goal from the one.
“I wanted to go possession by possession and I thought we were really coming back in the game,” Campbell said. “I wanted to give ourselves a chance to win a football game. I thought we were playing really well on defense and get the ball back and give ourselves a chance to win it.”
History repeated itself in the fourth quarter. Iowa State drove the ball down to the seven, but again got hung up on third down. Iowa State kicked another field goal.
Cornerback D’Andre Payne gave Iowa State one last chance, intercepting a pass in the end zone in the fourth quarter. However, Iowa State failed to do anything with it, turning the ball over on downs. That was essentially the end of the game.
“This is one of the toughest group of kids I’ve been around,” Campbell said. “They kept fighting. You have to play with more detail early in the game than what we did and you let a good team take advantage of lack of detail from our end in the first half. We got behind and had to use a lot of energy and effort just to give yourself a shot at the game.”
Campbell credited the seniors in the locker room the for the half time turnaround. He said if his team didn’t make corrections, they probably would’ve gotten blown out.
“I said this when we won and I’ll say it after a tough loss, it’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint,” Campbell said. “It’s your ability to learn and then you have an opportunity at the end of all of this to sit down and say, ‘Who are we really and what can we accomplish.’ That’s just part of it. A lot of it is learning and growing and certainly there’s a lot to learn from. It’s just a matter of, will you?”