Howard leads West Virginia over Iowa State 30-6
Nov. 28, 2015
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia's defense is reaching its peak late in the season.
The Mountaineers held an opponent out of the end zone for the third time, and Skyler Howard threw one touchdown pass and ran for another score to lead West Virginia to a 30-6 win over Iowa State on Saturday.
It marked the final home game for West Virginia's 20 seniors, who sang John Denver's "Country Roads" on their field together one final time in a light rain.
"I couldn't be prouder of our defense," said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. "They played spectacular. I don't think it's a coincidence that the seniors we talk about are on that side of the ball."
It also was the finale for Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, who was fired last Sunday and bows out with a career record of 32-55.
"It was a dreary day in Morgantown to finish up a tremendous seven-year run," Rhoads said. "Nothing better at the end of that to be standing in the locker room full of players, 70 players specifically, that made this final trip."
Iowa State was limited to 284 total yards and failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season. The Cyclones (3-9, 2-7 Big 12) went winless on the road, something that hadn't happened since 2008.
Josh Lambert kicked three field goals for the Mountaineers (7-4, 4-4), who won their fourth straight. Bowl-eligible West Virginia finishes at Kansas State next Saturday.
The Mountaineers held Iowa State to a pair of field goals and recorded five sacks and three turnovers against the Cyclones. West Virginia also has two shutouts this season for the first time since 1996.
"Everybody has so many different personalities, but I know one thing I can say is everyone is hard working," said West Virginia senior defensive back K.J. Dillon. "Everybody is just go-getters."
Dillon's interception on Iowa State's opening series set up Howard's scoring toss to Shelton Gibson, who took a short pass and weaved his way across the field for a 60-yard TD.
"When I cut it back, I said, 'I think I'm gone.' It was a great feeling," Gibson said.
Gibson finished with six catches for 148 yards. He also had a 53-yard kickoff return to set up a field goal.
Howard went 12 of 26 for 202 yards and led the Mountaineers in rushing with 73 yards. Wendell Smallwood finished with 72 yards, only his fourth game under 100 yards this season.
West Virginia amassed 426 rushing yards last week in a win at Kansas but had trouble getting any traction for most of the game against the Cyclones. Holgorsen said the absence of injured left guard Adam Pankey was felt.
"We really didn't run the ball very good," Holgorsen said. "We didn't play very good up front."
After averaging just 2.7 yards per carry well into the third quarter, the Mountaineers ran the ball six straight times on an 83-yard drive, with Howard going 32 yards up the middle to put West Virginia ahead 23-6.
That seemed to sap the will out of Iowa State.
The Cyclones, who had converted two fake punts on the same drive in the second quarter, tried it again on fourth down from their own 15 early in the fourth quarter, but backup quarterback Sam Richardson threw incomplete from the punt formation. West Virginia took advantage of the gift with Rushel Shell scoring from 9 yards out for a 30-6 lead.
Mike Warren, the nation's top freshman rusher, led Iowa State with 74 yards, but he didn't get a carry over the final five series. He finished the season with 1,339 yards.