Iowa State (3-0) marched down the field on the opening drive for a touchdown and never looked back, getting the points needed to beat the Bobcats (1-2) in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Ohio got off to a slow start in all phases where self-inflicted wounds contributed significantly to ISU’s early second quarter 24-point lead.
ISU’s first drive leaned heavily on their stars, with future NFL draft pick WR Xavier Hutchinson catching four passes for 27 yards. The drive was ultimately capped off by a six-yard keeper by QB Hunter Dekkers.
ISU’s gifted WR Hutchinson wound up finishing the day with nine catches for 93 yards and a score.
A dropped Bobcat pass on the opening Ohio drive led to a third-and-long, which was not converted. The ‘Cats 21-yard punt gave ISU the ball near midfield.
Ohio’s defense shut the Cyclones down to force a punt which Ohio fielded in the air near its goal line where the backpedaling returner was quickly tackled. For the ‘Cats, it's the third-straight week of the season where the offense has started a drive inside its own five-yard line.
The Bobcats offense was able to battle out of the shadow of its goal post but ultimately had to punt, an unpressured 23-yarder that gave ISU possession at its own 45.
ISU’s second scoring drive was the result of talent and good fortune. The Cyclones looked stopped after an incompletion on third-and-seven, but an offsides call on Ohio led to a second chance for ISU, who woudl convert they converted to keep the drive alive.
A few plays later, QB Hunter Dekkers hit WR DeShawn Hanika with a 12-yard TD pass, an impressive feat of hand-eye coordination as Dekkers’ laser pass caromed off of Ohio LB Kyle Kelly’s hands before being snagged by Hanika.
Dekkers finished the day with 268 yards passing and four scores (one rush, three pass).
With the score 14-0, two turnovers led to 10 more ISU points.
ISU LB O’Rien Vance started the party with a strip sack of Ohio QB Kurtis Rourke, giving the Cyclones a short field leading to a field goal for the Cyclones. The sack was a result of what appeared to be a late-developing screen pass where Rourke’s back was initially turned away from the screen side. Vance was there when Rourke turned around to throw the screen.
Safety Anthony Johnson Jr. got into the act next, climbing the ladder on the next Ohio drive to get his first interception of the season. It was the first of two interceptions by the Cyclones on the day, with the other turned in by LB Colby Reeder.
Off the Johnson Jr. pick, Iowa State drove 51 yards in five plays get the score they were looking for, capped by a three-yard run by Deon Silas.
Sometime during the second quarter, Bobcat defensive tackle Rodney Mathews suffered a lower leg injury and did not return. The extent of his injury is unknown at this time, but would be a significant loss if misses any games as Mathews is an essential part of Ohio’s D-line rotation.
Ultimately, Ohio settled in as the second quarter went on, trading scores and finishing the first half down 30-3, with Ohio’s true frosh kicker Nathanial Vakos hitting a 45-yarder.
Ohio was on the wrong side of the turnover margin in this one, gaining one while giving up four.
To the Bobcats’ credit, they continued to play hard in the third quarter in spite of the score and got some things rolling. The defense recorded a couple of sacks split among Vonnie Watkins, Alvin Floyd, and Jeremiah Burton.
The Bobcats continued their solid pass rush this season, finishing with two sacks and four QB pressures.
Also in the third quarter, the Bobcat kickoff return team set up great field position with a 50-yard return by WR Keegan Wilburn. Ohio marched nine plays to score on fourth-and-two on a slick play where WR James Bostic looked to be under center but the ball was snapped to Rourke, who hit TE Tyler Foster for his first career Bobcat TD reception.
Rourke exited the contest at the end of the third quarter, giving backup QB Parker Navarro an opportunity to get some reps. Rourke finished the game with 194 yards passing, one touchdown pass and two interceptions.
Both teams emptied the benches as the game headed into the fourth and the backups got some action.
Ohio will be looking forward to some home cooking against a non-Power Five opponent when they will close out non-conference play next week against the 3-0 Fordham Rams of the Patriot League. ISU, starting the season 3-0 for the first time since 2005, opens conference play next week against Baylor.