Iowa State had been riding high the past four weeks, with four straight wins en route to its best Big 12 start in school history. But on Saturday, it was West Virginia that played the spoiler role, stunning the No. 15 Cyclones 20-16 in Morgantown.
West Virginia beat Iowa State for the fourth straight time despite the Mountaineers going scoreless in the second half. Down 20-3 at the break, the Cyclones outscored WVU 13-0 in the second half but weren’t able to close the deal in the waning minutes, failing to convert a crucial fourth down with just under three minutes to play.
On the fourth-down play trailing 20-16, Iowa State senior quarterback Kyle Kempt dropped back in the pocket as he had his eyes set on his receiver down the middle of the field, but the ball was knocked away by true freshman safety Kenny Robinson and Iowa State turned it over on downs.
Kempt finished 27-of-40 for 249 yards and one touchdown.
Iowa State (6-3, 4-2) came into the game in a four-way tie for first place in the Big 12, but drops into a tie for second with the loss. The loss denied Iowa State its first 7-2 start since 1976 as West Virginia improved to 6-3 overall, 4-2 in conference play.
In the win, West Virginia quarterback Will Grier threw for over 300 yards passing for the eighth time in nine games. Grier finished the game completing 20-of-25 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns.
While the Cyclones outscored WVU in the second half, Iowa State only managed three points in the fourth quarter. It settled for a 24-yard field goal by Iowa State kicker Garrett Owens with 7:19 left in the game to cut WVU’s once 20-point lead down to a mere four points.
In the ensuing WVU possession, Grier tried to put an exclamation point on the win as he launched a 33-yard pass downfield to wide receiver David Sills in the end zone. But, as the ball seemed to drop perfecting into the waiting arms of Sills, it was ripped away by Iowa State cornerback D’Andre Payne for an interception.
The Cyclones got the ball back on their own 20-yard line with 4:57 remaining in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over on downs with 2:05 left in the game.
Iowa State was coming off a 14-7 win over previously unbeaten No. 4 TCU last week. With the win over TCU, the Cyclones became the only team this season with two wins over Top 5 teams. Iowa State beat then-No.3 Oklahoma 38-31 on Oct. 7.