AMES — “Not good enough.”
That was Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson’s assessment of his first start, which ended up as a 31-24 loss to West Virginia on Friday at Jack Trice Stadium.
“Because of the outcome,” the red-shirt freshman added.
Richardson threw for three touchdowns — one each to Jerome Tiller, Josh Lenz and Quenton Bundrage, improving his career touchdown-to-interception ratio to 7-0.
But one week removed from a stirring off-the-bench 23-of-27 passing performance in last week’s 51-23 win over Kansas, Richardson found completions harder to come by.
He connected on 13-of-31 passes against the Mountaineers, who frequently dropped eight men in coverage and rushed only three.
“Completely different defense that he had to go out and execute against,” Cyclone Coach Paul Rhoads said. “(He was) probably all right, but it wasn’t over the top of that. Three-man fronts are a unique defense to prepare for. They give a lot of different angles and numbers as far as pressure is concerned and certainly did a very nice job of covering us.”
Richardson tried to engineer ISU’s first comeback from more than nine points down this season, but fell short.
After West Virginia forged a 10-0 lead, he hit Tiller for an eight-yard touchdown.
After the Mountaineers went up 17-7, he connected with Lenz on an 18-yard strike 18 seconds before halftime.
His 35-yard throw into the wind late in the third quarter resulted in an in-stride touchdown catch for Bundrage and gave the Cyclones their first lead, 21-20.
“I think he played very well,” ISU center Tom Farniok said of Richardson. “Obviously, he’s a red-shirt freshman, first career start, especially against a defense like that, which is probably the most complex and confusing defense we’ve played against. They’re good. He did some things very well — calling out which protections and audibles and stuff. He played a very good game.”
Richardson couldn’t shake the feeling he hadn’t.
He questioned whether he should have tucked the ball and ran as many times as he did — even though his 18 carries for 119 yards allowed him to become his team’s first 100-yard rusher since Shontrelle Johnson totaled 120 yards on the ground on the season-opening win over Tulsa.
“I felt like I was a little bit rattled all night,” Richardson said.
One throw he wished he had back came on ISU’s final drive.
Lenz broke free to the end zone and Richardson floated the pass to him slightly.
Mountaineer safety Darwin Cook, who a few plays later forced a goal-line fumble, caught up and knocked the ball loose.
“Probably could have been a ball I threw a little bit earlier and maybe a little bit firmer,” Richardson said. “Obviously, it would have been a cleaner catch. But it’s one you hope you get. It’s a frustrating one. It’s tough.”
ISU punter Kirby Van Der Kamp thrilled the crowd with a 12-yard first down run on a fake punt. It came on fourth and 11 and with his team ahead 21-20, but the drive stalled at the West Virginia 35.
“Big wasted opportunity,” Rhoads said. “A chance for an eight-point lead and got squandered.”
Van Der Kamp improved to 5-for-5 in fake-punt conversions in his career.
NO. 47 GETS 14
Linebacker A.J. Klein recorded a season-high 14 tackles in his last game at Jack Trice Stadium.
It was his 16th career game with double-digit stops and moved him to seventh on ISU’s all-time list with 342.
Injured teammate Jake Knott stands sixth, with 347.
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