Iowa State falls in Big 12 opener

By Anthony Hanson, KURE Sports Reporter

AMES- No. 17 Baylor overpowered Iowa State and ended its undefeated run Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.

The Cyclones lost the turnover battle 2-0 and ended an attempt to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 2000.

Baylor and defensive-minded head coach Dave Aranda limited Iowa State’s efficient offensive attack led by junior quarterback Hunter Dekkers. After Baylor gained the lead on the game’s opening drive, the Cyclones tied but never took the lead in the game.

Baylor avoided a late comeback effort and secured the win 31-24.

“Our precision and detail didn’t allow us to gain the momentum,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said postgame. “This is a game of momentum, and we were always fighting from behind to gain it.”

Baylor found momentum early. After taking the opening kickoff, Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen found preseason All-Big 12 tight end Ben Sims in the end zone for a touchdown. The 12-play 72-yard drive was extended by two fifteen-yard penalties on Iowa State, including a targeting penalty that disqualified starting safety Beau Freyler.

Freyler returned to the starting lineup to face Baylor after being out in Iowa State’s matchup with Ohio. Five plays into Iowa State’s matchup with Baylor, Freyler exited early.

Baylor’s offense stayed on the field twice on fourth down during the game’s first drive. The Bears converted both times and methodically moved down the field.

The Cyclones responded when Dekkers led the Iowa State offense to the endzone on its first chance with the ball. Jirehl Brock caught a two-yard pass from Dekkers to cap off a 12-play response to Baylor’s opening drive. Brock received the handoff six times on the drive, including a nine-yard gain in which Brock was injured. The junior running back was sidelined for one play and returned to the offensive unit and caught the touchdown.

“You feel Jirehl Brock play the game of football,” Campbell said postgame.  “I am so grateful for his toughness.”

Dekkers finished Saturday’s matchup and his Big 12 debut 23 for 36 with two interceptions and two touchdowns. The Cyclone starting quarterback suffered his first loss as a starter of his Iowa State career. Dekkers was sacked by the Baylor defense four times. 

Baylor outside linebacker and six-year senior Bryson Jackson tallied two sacks himself.

Dekkers targeted wide receiver Jaylin Noel eight times. The sophomore wide receiver made two catches on Iowa State’s fourth-quarter drive and final threat to Baylor’s lead.

Noel’s 50-yard catch and run helped the drive stay alive on third and seven. Iowa State ended the drive with a field goal from Jace Gilbert to make trim Baylor’s advantage to a one-possession lead.

Iowa State’s onside, however, kicked failed and Baylor held on to win 31-24. Noel finished leading all receivers with 120 total yards on seven receptions.

“I’m always proud of the effort this team is willing to put in,” senior wide receiver Dimitri Stanley said. “We showed that at the end of the game.”

Stanley caught his first touchdown in a Cyclone uniform in the second quarter. Stanley, a transfer from Colorado, connected with Dekkers on a 24-yard pass over the middle and made the score 17-14 in favor of Baylor.

Iowa State will continue its journey in the Big 12 conference on the road with Kansas next week. The Jayhawks defeated Duke Saturday to stay undefeated for the program’s first time since 2009.

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