Nothing Pretty, But Plenty of Purdy, In WVU Loss
It wasn’t pretty.
In fact, you might say it was ‘Purdy’ ugly… the way Iowa State crushed No. 6 West Virginia’s hopes for an unbeaten season, 30-14, behind a freshman quarterback making his first start named Brock Purdy, who outplayed the Mountaineers’ Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Will Grier.
WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen was as impressed with Purdy as he was unimpressed with his own offense, which he said put on “the worst offensive performance I’ve seen in my 30 years of coaching. Are they that good on defense? I don’t know. Oklahoma State scored 42 on them last week, we scored seven.”
But Purdy had it all?
“He does a great job of extending plays. He keeps his eyes down field. he does that little pump fake thing they teach in junior high but you fall for it. You can’t leave your feet. He throws with accuracy,” Holgorsen said.
While Purdy was was completing 18-of-24 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns, Grier spent the entire evening running for his life as Iowa State sent blitzes from everywhere, sometimes seeming to come from out of the stands to chase him around.
By the time his 11-of-15 passing night for 100 yards and a touchdown and interception ended, he had been sacked seven times for 60 yards in losses.
Grier threw his only touchdown pass on the Mountaineers’ third possession and from that point on was completely stymied as his receivers seemed to be running through a secondary manned by 13 defenders, never open.
The Mountaineers, who came into the game fourth in the nation in third down proficiency, were 1 for 10 on third down. For the game Iowa State gained 498 yards to 152 for WVU.
It was obvious that this was not your normal college football Saturday even before West Virginia and Iowa State took the field in Jack Trice Stadium, considering the way form was falling apart all afternoon.
It was as if the Top 20 had become the Flop 20. No. 2 Georgia went to LSU and was blown away, 36-16. Not much later, No. 9 Penn State was upset by Michigan State while playing in Not-So-Happy Valley, No. 7 Washington fell to Oregon, No. 21 Auburn fell to Tennessee and a host of other teams barely escaped with their lives, most notably Notre Dame narrowly edging Pitt.
But, despite warnings that Iowa State was a better team than its 2-3 record, this was a WVU team that had never trailed this season and had never lost in Ames.
Besides, Iowa State’s two top players, their All-American candidate running back David Montgomery was questionable with an arm injury that kept him out of action last week, and their senior quarterback Kyle Kempt was also not expected to play.
If only it were so simple …
Turned out Montgomery not only played but he tortured WVU. Kempt’s replacement, Purdy, who had turned in a huge performance last week coming off the bench, shook off an interception to show off all his skills as Iowa State rode to a 20-14 halftime lead.
And believe it, it wasn’t that close except that the amazing nose guard Kenny Bigelow broke through to block a field goal near the end of the half that was scooped by Derek Pitts and brought back 72 yards for a touchdown to cut a 20-7 deficit to just 6 points.
But Grier was pressured the entire half, sacked four times and forced to run four others and when they didn’t get to him he couldn’t find anyone open to throw to.
At halftime, ISU had 250 yards to 112 for WVU, Montgomery rushing for 94 yards and Purdy completing 10-of-14 for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
It started on the first possession when WVU faced its first third down and ISU sent its safeties blitzing and sacked Grier. By halftime WVU was just 1-for-7 on third down.
WVU actually scored first when Purdy made his only real mistake of the half and made a classic freshman mistake that turned into a Dravon Askew-Henry interception, the Mountaineers jumping on the opportunity with Kennedy McKoy running 26 yards and then Grier throwing maybe his best pass of the year, dropping one from the 18 down the left sideline into the hands of David Sills.
But from that point on WVU gained 38 yards on four possessions while ISU was having its way to grab that 20-7 lead that seemed sure to grow to 23-7 when the field goal was blocked and run back to breath new life into the Mountaineers.
A missed field goal by Iowa State coming out of halftime added to the attempt at resurrection of the Mountaineers, but they were completely stymied throughout the third quarter.
The Iowa State defense was relentless and WVU ran only nine plays and gained just 42 yards in the quarter, a quarter that end with WVU 1 for 9 on third down and with Grier having been able to attempt only 12 passes.
The situation changed dramatically as the fourth quarter started with Purdy connecting on a perfect throw to Deshaunte Jones for a 32-yard score and then punctuating it with a two-point conversion to Mathew Eaton.
All of a sudden an impotent WVU offense was looking at two touchdown, 28-14 deficit with just 12:17 left to play.
A late safety when left tackle Yodny Cajuste was caught holding in the end zone as Grier tried to avoid another sack closed out the scoring.