Hall Pounds For 132 Yards, Three Scores Against Depleted WVU Defense
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – To hear one of his teammates tell it, Iowa State’s Breece Hall was a 100-yard game waiting to happen.
Hall, a freshman, came off the bench to batter West Virginia with a career-high 132 yards rushing and three touchdowns to lead the Cyclones past the Mountaineers 38-14 at Milan Puskar Stadium Saturday night. The three scores were Hall’s first of the season. He became the first ISU freshman to run for 100 yards since NFL draft pick David Montgomery did it in 2016.
“The way he practices, he was due,” Iowa State receiver La’Michael Pettway said. “I’m happy for him. He is a workhorse and he’s a guy who is always trying to get better.”
Hall gained 77 yards in the second half as Iowa State pulled away from WVU. The teams were tied 14-14 at halftime.
Cyclones coach Matt Campbell also pointed to practice as the key to Hall’s success.
“What you guys saw today was a result of a great week of practice and really two weeks of practice,” Campbell said. “For Breece, he’s still learning how to do school, do football and be the best version of him that he can be.”
Saturday’s version was pretty impressive, especially for a youngster who has yet to start a game. His season-high rushing yardage is 47 yards on 11 carries in an overtime win over Northern Iowa on Aug. 31.
The Cyclones have used a stable of running backs as Johnnie Lang, Kene Nwangwu and Sheldon Croney have each started at least one game but, Saturday, Hall logged the most carries (26) by an ISU back all year. Lang started against the Mountaineers but gave way to Hall on the team’s final drive of the first quarter. Hall gained 18 yards on his first carry, his long run for the day.
Despite the performance, Campbell said Hall has not ascended to the starting role yet.
“Breece is a freshman,” Campbell said. “I think the thing for me is that he has to learn how to do things consistently in order to be a great player.”
He certainly got his reps, particularly in the third quarter.
On Iowa State’s first possession of the second half, Hall followed an incomplete pass with rushes of nine yards, three yards and four yards. Quarterback Brock Purdy then connected with Tarique Milton on a 28-yard pass play that moved the ball to the WVU 12 after the Mountaineers’ Hakeem Bailey was flagged for targeting. Bailey was also ejected from the game. Hall ripped through the middle of the line on the next play for a 12-yard touchdown that gave the Cyclones a 21-14 lead.
Hall ran four times for 18 yards to help another touchdown drive that Purdy capped with an 18-yard toss to Joe Scates.
Pettway gave credit to Iowa State’s second-half offensive revival to Hall.
“Breece was running the game so well, (West Virginia’s) defense had to change,” Pettway said. “That left us with a lot of one-on-ones on the outside and I made some catches.”
Although he would not name Hall next week’s starter, Campbell predicted good things to come for Hall.
“I think at some point, Breece is going to be a great player,” Campbell said. “There’s a process to get there. You can go back to some of the great backs that we’ve had or have coached in the past. That freshman year is just an adjustment period in a lot of ways.”
As the Cyclones continue through the Big 12 schedule, Campbell is counting on Hall to be a player opponents will have to account for.
“The nice thing was – and is – that we haven’t had to put a lot on his plate,” he said. “The great thing is that when we get into the heat of Big 12 football play, running the football is still really important. He’s going to have to be – and that whole room will have to be – a huge asset to us moving forward.”
If Hall’s performance seemed familiar, that’s because he’s the fifth Cyclone to rush for 100 yards against WVU. The others are Montgomery, three times, and Sam Richardson.
Iowa State Notes
*ISU is 9-0 in October over the last three seasons. Alabama is the only other “Power 5” school to be undefeated in October since 2017.
This is the first time that ISU has had back-to-back wins by 24+ points in conference play since 2005 (three consecutive from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5).
ISU has 18 consecutive games with a sack, the second-longest streak in school history (22, 2005-07).
ISU is 27-of-28 in the red zone this season (5-5 today, 5 touchdowns).
In six games this season, the ISU offense has just three three-and-outs.
The ISU defense has not allowed a first-quarter touchdown this season.
The ISU defense has only allowed three rushing touchdowns this season.
ISU was 3-3 on fourth down today, after being 1-6 on the season.
ISU is 19-5 under Matt Campbell when leading after three quarters.
ISU is 15-3 under Campbell with a positive turnover margin.
ISU is 7-5 in its last 12 road conference games.
In its last two games against West Virginia, the ISU defense has allowed a total of 342 yards, including just 93 rushing yards on 55 carries.