By SCOTT JACKSON
Courier sports writer
---- — AMES — It seemed like, finally, the stars were aligned.
Homecoming weekend. Two big special teams play. A strong second-half surge. Two late interceptions to stall potential game-changing scoring drives.
Everything seemed to be set up for Iowa State to finally earn a Big 12 victory, snap a six-game losing streak and end the bowl eligibility hopes of visiting TCU.
Then, Aaron Green hit a big run on fourth down with under two minutes to go in regulation. Another big run by Green on third-and-3 put the Horned Frogs on the doorstep of a go-ahead touchdown with under a minute to go.
Finally, three plays later, Trevone Boykins took in his third rushing touchdown of the day with just 38 seconds to go. Suddenly, TCU was able to escape Jack Trice Stadium with a 21-17 win.
And suddenly, another frustrating Saturday came to an end for the 1-8 Iowa State Cyclones.
“It’s hard to express it because there are a thousand things that are running through your mind after a loss like that,” senior linebacker Jeremiah George said. “You think about all the plays that you could make that would have put you in a better position to win.”
George looked like he had made the game-winning, or at least game-saving play, to end TCU’s drive prior to the go-ahead touchdown. With the Horned Frogs driving to the Iowa State 22, senior quarterback Casey Pachall looked to hit Brandon Carter for a second big pass over the middle to either keep the drive going or get TCU closer for a game-tying field goal with 5:18 to go.
Instead, Carter bobbled the ball right into the hands of George, ending the drive with Iowa State still holding on to a 17-14 lead.
“I wasn’t sure if it was a fumble recovery or an interception,” George said of the play. “I don’t really care. I was really happy for Jevohn Miller. He made two big back-to-back plays to set up that third down. It was a really exciting moment for all of us.”
The day was filled with exciting moments for both teams, any of which could have changed how the game played out. Iowa State allowed the first big moment of the game to go to TCU when Albert Gary muffed a 40-yard punt inside the Cyclone 25, allowing Cam White to set up the Horned Frogs with a short field.
Boykins made the turnover pay off with an 18-yard touchdown run to give the Horned Frogs a 7-0, first quarter lead.
“There are so many plays that go into a game and there’s a lot to point at when you lose,” Iowa State head football coach Paul Rhoads said. “Those special teams plays that we didn’t make certainly didn’t help our cause.”
The next big play, however, also featured a big play from the Iowa State special teams. Facing fourth down on TCU’s 40, ISU punter Kirby Van Der Kamp faked the kick and found Justin Coleman wide open for a 25-yard gain to the Horned Frogs’ 15.
Sophomore quarterback Sam Richardson then took the next play into the end zone from 15 yards out on a keeper that tied the game at 7-7.
“It was a great play call by coach Rhoads at that point. It was a great throw and great hit taken by Justin. We practice for that all year. He hopped right back up like it was nothing,” redshirt sophomore DeVondrick Nealy said of the first big special teams play for ISU. “We work so hard on special teams to make big plays. If you win the battle on special teams, you have an excellent chance at winning the game.”
Nealy would create the second big special teams play for the Cyclones. Down 14-7 at the half, Nealy erased the deficit in an instant with a 98-yard kickoff return to even the score and send Jack Trice Stadium into a frenzy.
“I could have broken my first return back, but (TCU) did a good job wrapping up my legs,” Nealy said after providing Iowa State with its second kickoff return for a score this season, the first time in over 40 years that has happened for a Cyclone football team. “I knew they were going to go for the legs again, so I knew I had to pick them up and down to get to the end zone.”
Iowa State kept the momentum going late in the third quarter. The Cyclones used pass plays to Dondre Daley, E.J. Bibbs and Justin Coleman from quarterback Grant Rohach to spark a 15-play, 64-yard drive that ended with Netten’s kick with 1:33 left in the third quarter.
“We really needed that touchdown at that point. That really made a big difference,” Nealy said. “When I got back to the sidelines, you could tell it got everyone pumped up.”
Iowa State could not get the offense cranked up again, however. The Cyclones got one first down after George’s interception, causing TCU to use one of its three timeouts, but an incomplete pass on third down to stop the clock and 17-yard punt by Van Der Kamp gave TCU the ball on its own 42 with still 2:34 and two timeouts left needing just a field goal to force overtime.
The Horned Frogs forced ISU to use up two timeouts after getting inside the Cyclone 5-yard-line with seconds remaining. Boykins just crossed the goal line from a yard out on a quarterback sneak to give TCU the lead. Iowa State got to the Horned Frogs’ 45 before an attempted hook-and-ladder pass with two throwback passes sailed out of bounds as time expired.
“I’ve had this feeling after the Texas game, after the Texas Tech game,” George said of the close loss. “It’s like someone knocked the wind out of you and you have catch your breath before the next play. You just have to overcome it.”
And Iowa State (1-8, 0-6) will have a week to get over it before hitting the road to face one of the Big 12’s toughest opponents. ISU heads to Oklahoma to face the 18th-ranked Sooners next Saturday at 11 a.m.
“I told my son last night that one game does not define a season and one play doesn’t define a game,” Rhoads said. “What I know is I have a team that plays with phenomenal emotion that I’m very grateful to coach.”
To follow Scott Jackson's Twitter feed, go to @stjack423
Canzeri leads Iowa to 38-14 win over Purdue Courier sports staff
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Jordan Canzeri ran for a career-high 165 yards on 20 carries to help the Iowa Hawkeyes defeat the Purdue Boilermakers 38-14 on Saturday afternoon.
Canzeri, a sophomore who entered the game with 173 yards rushing all season, also scored a touchdown to help the Hawkeyes become bowl eligible. Jake Rudock passed for 191 yards and two touchdowns for Iowa (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten), which set season highs for total yards (509) and yards rushing (318).
Danny Etling completed 15 of 28 passes for 145 yards for Purdue (1-8, 0-5), which has lost seven straight and has not beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision team this year. The Boilermakers have scored 31 points in five Big Ten games, with two of the touchdowns coming in the final minute of play.
Early in the second quarter, Rudock found Don Shumpert down the middle of the field for 34 yards to move the Hawkeyes into Purdue territory. Eventually, Canzeri scored from the 2 to give Iowa a 7-0 lead. The touchdown capped a 90-yard drive that included a third-and-1 conversion by Mark Weisman to move the Hawkeyes to the Purdue 2-yard line.
Purdue caught its first break in a long time when Iowa's Kevonte Martin-Manley fumbled a punt and Purdue's Armstead Williams recovered at the Iowa 35.
Purdue, which had been shut out its previous two games, finally scored in the second quarter. Etling connected with Hunt for a 26-yard screen pass on third-and-6 to set up the Boilermakers at the Iowa 5-yard line. On third down, Etling found Kurt Freytag for a 2-yard touchdown pass. The extra point tied the score with 5:44 left in the second quarter.
Martin-Manley made up for his fumble with a 22-yard touchdown catch from Rudock that gave Iowa a 14-7 lead with 1:57 left in the second quarter.
Iowa gained 250 yards in the first half, yet led just 14-7. The Hawkeyes were hampered by bad field position throughout the half. Canzeri had 75 yards on 10 carries before the break.
On its second possession of the third quarter, the Boilermakers converted three first downs before Raheem Mostert fumbled and Iowa's Christian Kirksey recovered at the Iowa 29. The Hawkeyes took advantage when Weisman barreled in from 4 yards out to push their lead to 21-7 with 3:43 left in the third. It was an eight-play, 71-yard drive that included just one pass. The Hawkeyes controlled the game the rest of the way.