The weather cooperated, but that did not help to prevent a sluggish start to the game for both West Virginia and Iowa State, two teams who entered the game in desperate need of a win.
And it was the Cyclones who pulled off the victory, keeping their bowl eligibility hopes alive and forcing the Mountaineers into a situation that requires winning out to have a postseason. How did it happen? Pretty much the reverse of everything that was needed for WVU to get the win is what ended up occurring.
Daniels had a line of completing only 3 of 8 passes for just 14 yards into the second quarter. That was before he threw an interception to kill a WVU drive. Conversely, Iowa State was doing enough on offense, mostly on the ground, and allowing their defense to impose its will.
The West Virginia offense finally woke up at the end of the first half, as Daniels found wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown. Despite being outplayed most of the game so far, WVU only trailed 10-7 at halftime.
After a lull of a third quarter, the score remained the same to start the final 15 minutes. A critical roughing the punter call against West Virginia gave the Cyclones new life on a possession that reclaimed Iowa State’s 10-point lead at 17-7 now into the 4th quarter. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers threw his second touchdown pass of the game when he found Xavier Hutchinson who then ran 24 yards for the score. The play got Hutchinson over 100 yards receiving in the game, accounting for most of what Iowa State produced through the air.
What was initially called a fumble by Daniels on an errant throw was overturned and called an incomplete pass. This saved the game momentarily and chance at a comeback for the Mountaineers. However, all it really did was delay the inevitable.
Penalties and an inability to stop Iowa State made there little hope for WVU. Cartevious Norton capped off another scoring drive with a short touchdown run, making the score 24-7. He then carried the ball and defenders in for another touchdown on their next possession, completing the ISU’s third best offensive performance all season and snapping their 5-game losing streak.
Before the clock hit all 0’s, Daniels did toss his second touchdown of the game, this one to senior Sam James. But it didn’t matter. That was it. Iowa State won 31-14.
Where does West Virginia go from here? That’s now the question perplexing members of Mountaineer Nation all over the country. Sitting at 3-6 on the season, head coach Neal Brown has a tall task to try to finish the season in a manner that would elicit reason to trust any type of climb moving forward.
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