Oct 5, 2019; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) follows the block of offensive lineman Josh Knipfel (66) during a game against the TCU Horned Frogs at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy finished answering a question. Tight end Charlie Kolar — finished with the media after the Cyclones’ dominant 49-24 win Saturday over TCU — strode by, stopping briefly to playfully poke his finger into Purdy’s right ear.
It was that type of day.
Fun. Clutch. A fresh “Brocktober” beginning borne from the bitter fruit of an uneven 2-2 start to the season — so why not cap it with an ad-libbed wet willie?
“Charlie’s a strange cat for one, but he’s funny — all the tight ends are,” said Purdy, who rushed for two touchdowns and passed for two more as ISU moved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 play. “Yeah, you just see it around the facility. Everyone’s having a good time and there’s a lot of joy. Even though we’ve lost and things like that, coach has just preached at us, ‘You’re here. You’re playing power five football. You’ve got amazing facilities and things like that so just have fun, have joy. There’s no need to be afraid of failure.’ That’s really just what’s been going on around here.”
Saturday’s game started two hours late because of the usual inclement conditions, but the Cyclones proved to be right on schedule otherwise as the calendar dipped into October. Purdy scampered for 44 yards to set up a one-yard touchdown throw to tight end Chase Allen on the offense’s opening possession. ISU would never trail and routinely — but not always — overcame missteps and penalties in plus-territory while aprinkling in a defensive touchdown to trounce the Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1).
“We kept plugging along and it worked out well,” Kolar said.
Purdy completed 19 of 24 passes for 247 yards and touchdowns to Allen and Kolar. His first rushing touchdown put the Cyclones ahead 28-3 early in the third quarter and his second served as the dagger with 6:27 remaining.
ISU didn’t go three-and-out on offense once — and even though the Cyclones did fail to produce points on drives that ended at the TCU 27, 33 and 40-yard lines, they didn’t let those miscues define them, or mushroom into chronic issues.
And that’s darn fun.
“I think early on in the season we wanted to show everybody that this is the team, we’re going to do this, this and that,” said Purdy, who rushed for a career-best 102 yards and rose to ninth all-time in passing yards with 3,828. “(We) put a lot of extra pressure on ourselves and that was really unnecessary. So being able to balance having fun and proving everything I think is a great balance moving forward throughout the season. I felt like today we really showed that.”
Desshaunte Jones led the Cyclones with 10 catches for 110 yards, but nine other ISU players made one catch apiece — including backup quarterback Re-al Mitchell, who also rushed one time for nine yards as Purdy split wide as a de facto receiver.
Johnnie Lang added a pair of rushing touchdowns for ISU, which put up 49 or more points in a conference game for the first time since a 66-10 shellacking of Texas Tech on Nov. 19, 2016.
“(It’s) kind of like, relax, and just go out there and have fun,” Jones said. “Don’t really worry about making a mistake because if you go out there and make a mistake and you’re playing timid, bad things start to happen. Who cares if you make a mistake? Just go out there and have fun and once we do that, we’ll start having less mistakes and start playing fast and start playing together as a team. As you can see, that’s what we did.”
The defense added to Saturday’s smiles when linebacker O’Rien Vance strip-sacked Horned Frogs’ quarterback Max Duggan at the five-yard line early in the second quarter. Defensive end Enyi Uwazurike scooped up the football at the one and drove into the end zone to put the Cyclones in front, 14-3, and they’d maintain a double-digit lead from that point on.
“I’ve seen a good chunk of stringing together good team football,” ISU head coach Matt Campbell said after his team improved to 8-0 in the month of October in the past three seasons. “When we don’t play well, the offense plays good at a time, defense plays good at a time and special teams is at times consistent and at times inconsistent. I just thought we played in a really good rhythm today. I thought we were aggressive on both sides of the ball early. I just felt like there was a good flow. Even as that game got awkward there early in the fourth quarter, we made a play when we needed to make a play and took back the emotion and the energy and we were able to seal the deal, which I thought was really big for us. I really like this team. Best group of kids I’ve ever coached, and I’ve never been down on these guys. It’s fun to watch them respond, and hopefully we get to tell their story as the season goes on.”
Want more proof that lightening the mood augments execution and lights up the scoreboard?
Allow TCU head coach Gary Patterson to sum up Saturday’s game:
“As I told Coach Campbell, they kicked our butts,” Patterson said. “Every phase. Pretty simple. Not much more you can say.”