Iowa State Watches West Virginia Slip Away

Iowa State's early lead went by the wayside in the home finale Saturday as West Virginia pulled away with a 37-24 win at Jack Trice Stadium

AMES, IOWA — For its final act of the 2014 season at Jack Trice Stadium, Iowa State’s offense disappeared.

What started so well in the home finale — a 14-point lead minutes into the second quarter — spiraled downward. The Iowa State offense stalled while West Virginia’s found its rhythm en route to a 37-24 win, denying the Cyclones’ bid for their first Big 12 victory.

“It was difficult at times,” said receiver Tad Ecby, who hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass in the loss. “We were stalling, three-and-out, three-and-out. We just kept trying to find a rhythm and we really just couldn’t find it today.”

After the Mountaineers marched downfield in short order on their first drive — scoring the game’s first touchdown with a 54-yard run — Iowa State quickly responded. The Cyclones went 80 yards on their first drive, capped by an Aaron Wimberly touchdown run up the middle.

In all, Iowa State ended up scoring 21-striaght to take a two score lead. Wimberly caught a 5-yard pass across the middle when West Virginia brought pressure and Ecby managed to hang on to a 29-yard pass early in the second quarter to cap a drive that started 37-yards out after the Mountaineers fumbled.

From the combination of that West Virginia fumble and Iowa State touchdown, the Cyclones’ offense was messy. What followed were six punts, two interceptions, one turnover on downs and a field goal.

“They were eating up our running game. It was almost non-existent,” coach Paul Rhoads said. “We were having trouble getting combinations and identifying where to get the ball and knowing where to throw the ball."

Iowa State’s offense managed 207 total yards after extending its first half lead to two scores, but had chances to stick in the game.

The Cyclones picked up a 29-yard gain late in the third quarter trailing by three when receiver Allen Lazard bobbled a catch and ultimately caught it off the defender’s leg while on the ground. On fourth-and-four later in that same drive, Iowa State pulled off a fake field goal attempt, converting for the first down.

“At that point, we’d gotten down there again and kicking a longer field goal was not what I wanted to do,” Rhoads said. “I wanted a touchdown. I wanted to take the doggone lead. It was a time to take the calculated risk at that point to give our football team a little kick in the tail.”

The play eventually went for naught when Richardson was intercepted in the end zone from 15-yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.

“We’ve had a few occasions where we’ve had a momentum swing like that and really have a chance with a defense on its heels to push in and take advantage of it,” Rhoads said. “In the end, they played a certain coverage and dropped into it and we weren’t able to identify it and threw into it. That’s the chess game that’s football at any level and they played that move better than us."

The Mountaineers shortly after added a touchdown and all but sealed their seventh victory with a field goal on their next drive, outscoring the Cyclones 30-3 to end the game. The loss sends Iowa State to its third defeat this season after leading by two scores (NDSU and Kansas State).

“No matter what we can’t go back,” defensive end Dale Pierson said. “Yeah, there’s a play here and a play there, but we can’t go back, so we’ve just got to keep moving forward within the season.”

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