Iowa State football’s blend of ‘young pups’ and seniors fuels 27-14 win over TCU

Iowa State running back Abu Sama III (24) shoves TCU linebacker Shad Banks Jr. (0) out of the way during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

AMES — Rocco Becht. Ben Brahmer. Abu Sama.

What do these three names have in widespread? Becht’s a redshirt freshman beginning at quarterback for Iowa State, Brahmer and Sama are true freshmen contributing at tight finish and tailback — and all three made the pivotal performs on a vital quick-strike scoring drive to gas the Cyclones’ 27-14 win over TCU Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

“This group is brave,” mentioned ISU head coach Matt Campbell, whose staff improved to 3-3 total and 2-1 in Huge 12 play earlier than a crowd of 60,535 that assembled for the college’s first Jack Trice Legacy recreation. “They’ve are available with a function. They’ve are available and it’s not all the time been excellent, however they demand to get higher on daily basis, and their development has been exponential. They’ve needed to step into some robust circumstances they usually’ve accomplished a terrific job. They’ve by no means flinched.”

Particularly on the important thing scoring drive in query.

The Cyclones clung to a precarious 10-7 lead early within the third quarter when Becht triggered a two-play, 74-yard landing drive that resulted in Sama’s 55-yard dash to the tip zone.

“There’s nothing higher than doing all your block after which wanting down the sphere and going, ‘Man, there it goes,’” sophomore heart Jim Bonifas mentioned. “There’s nothing higher, so nice feeling.”

Becht had related with Brahmer for a 19-yard acquire on the earlier play, which helped loosen up the Horned Frogs’ protection and contributed to ISU’s eventual two-score benefit that might swell to a 17-point cushion earlier than TCU (3-3, 1-2) scored its second landing with 1:17 left.

In brief, that freshman-led drive sparked a 17-point barrage that put the Cyclones forward, 27-7, with 11:27 remaining within the recreation.

ISU rushed for 215 yards — its highest complete towards a convention foe since gaining 279 yards in a 48-14 win over the Horned Frogs on Nov. 26, 2021. Sophomore Eli Sanders led the best way with 99 yards on 16 carries. He additionally scored the primary landing of the sport.

“That makes it loads simpler as a result of I believe we had extra dashing yards than passing yards,” mentioned Becht, who accomplished 16 of 28 passes for 138 yards and a landing to senior tight finish Easton Dean. “So it was a straightforward night time for me and I’m pleased for the staff, so if we may do that each week, that might be superior.”

It’s additionally unimaginable, however the Cyclones’ latest resurrection of their long-moribund operating recreation ought to bode effectively for the second half of the season, which swings into view subsequent Saturday at Cincinnati (2-3, 0-2).

ISU additionally rose up for 4 interceptions from 4 totally different gamers towards TCU — its most prolific efficiency in that regard since trouncing San Jose State, 44-10, in 2016.

“I believe this group has grown each week,” Campbell mentioned. “It continues to develop and the nice groups in school soccer, you’ll be able to’t declare them in September. And also you certain can’t declare them midway by October, however they’ll present up on the finish of October and (throughout) November, they usually’re those that hold getting higher, that get higher week in and week out. The one good factor now we have, (is) we’ve bought a terrific group of seniors that it’s actually significant and vital, and we’ve bought a variety of younger guys which have a terrific spirit about who they’re and who they wish to change into.”

That might be constant winners for the primary time in three seasons. The highway forward gained’t be simple, however after lastly “profitable within the margins” with gusto for the primary time in latest reminiscence, future video games don’t appear like probably mammoth obstacles. They’re again to merely — and fortunately — serving as alternatives. The Cyclones rebounded from a 50-20 loss at No. 12 Oklahoma this week, so resilience is already a part of their repertoire. Sprinkle within the braveness that Campbell talked about and ISU’s path ahead is lastly coming into sharp focus when it comes to the probabilities.

“It’s simply staying the course, staying constant, and staying within the course of,” Becht mentioned. “We did that this week in apply. No person bowed their heads. No person regarded again. We simply studied the sport plan, studied TCU, and we got here into this recreation appearing like we have been 0-0. That’s what we’re gonna do each week.”

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