AMES, Iowa — Waiting all season for a breakaway run, West Virginia’s Rushel Shell finally found a crack and ran 54 yards.
And he did it running through a hole created by a backup guard.
With Tony Matteo pressed into his first meaningful action by an ankle injury to Quinton Spain, the Mountaineers turned their sixth play of Saturday’s game into a touchdown. Shell took a stretch play and cut through Matteo’s gap.
“I was really impressed,” said Shell. “I told him he made the perfect block, all I had to do was cut off of him.”
Shell ran for 146 yards on 22 carries, feeling healthy for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain against Baylor on Oct. 18. Even before the injury, when Shell was drawing raves for piling up tough yards, he wasn’t making second-level defenders miss.
“You just want it so bad,” he said. “It gets annoying sometimes and you just want to be able to break a 30- or 40-yarder. But you have to be patient. It will happen.”
It finally happened against Iowa State.
“I cut off of Tony’s butt and I saw the safety right there,” Shell said. “All week in practice Coach Holgorsen and Coach (JaJuan) Seider talked about getting north and south, not east and west. I decided I was just going to run straight and outrun him. And it worked out.”
Spain had started 36 consecutive games, but wasn’t able to practice this week.
“When guys go down, other people have to be ready to step up and Tony was ready today,” Shell said. “He played excellent.”