AMES, Iowa (AP) — Hunter Dekkers made his debut as Iowa State’s starting quarterback Saturday and threw for 293 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-10 rout of Southeast Missouri.
Dekkers, who completed a total of 25 passes in two seasons as the Cyclones’ backup, finished 25 of 31 against the Redhawks, helping Iowa State to its most lopsided season-opening win since 2001.
“To be honest, I was expecting to have some kind of nerves going into this game,” Dekkers said. “And I really didn't.”
Dekkers is the first Iowa State quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in his initial start since 1999.
“I really thought he handled the flow of the game really well,” Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said. “The operation of the offense, handling the football, distribution and accuracy, I thought he was really good.”
Xavier Hutchinson caught a career-best three touchdowns, finishing with 128 yards on eight receptions.
“Nothing ever shocks me,” Campbell said of Hutchinson. “Just because of what he continues to do in terms of his preparation.”
The Cyclones’ running game got off to a sluggish start, but Jirehl Brock rushed for 99 of his 104 yards in the second half, scoring on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter to give Iowa State a 35-10 lead.
“Tailbacks, sometimes, it takes getting into the flow of the game a little bit,” Campbell said. “I just think it came naturally smoother as the game went on.”
Paxton DeLaurent was Southeast Missouri’s most consistent offensive performer, running and passing for 296 yards.
The Cyclones scored on their first three possessions, and after a couple of hiccups late in the second quarter regained control in the third and cruised to victory.
Dekkers' only big gaffe was an interception just before halftime. He was the first quarterback other than Brock Purdy to start for Iowa State since 2018.
“I really have great faith in Hunter Dekkers,” Campbell said. "I really fell in love with Hunter Dekkers from the first day I saw him in camp as a junior going to be a senior in high school.
“This isn't like the underdog story. This guy has been successful in everything he's done.”
Iowa State’s offense looked sharp early, netting 258 first-half yards and reaching the end zone on its first three possessions. Seven different receivers caught passes from Dekkers. The only glitch came when the Cyclones tried to run the ball, rushing for just 20 yards on eight first-half carries, an average of 2.5 yards against an FCS opponent.
The Cyclones could have been in a real tussle if not for two red zone stands by their defense. The first came on the game’s opening drive, as Southeast Missouri reached the Iowa State 12-yard line. Tyler Onyedim ended that threat by intercepting a deflected pass. Southeast Missouri had the ball at Iowa State’s 5 late in the first half but was held to a field goal and trailed 21-10 at the break.
Iowa State travels to rival Iowa next Saturday.
Southeast Missouri visits Southern Illinois on Saturday.
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