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West Virginia wide receiver T.J. Simmons (1) runs for a touchdown after escaping from Iowa State defensive back Justin Bickham (7).

MORGANTOWN – It wasn’t pretty.

But it wasn’t Purdy, either.

All in all, this game fell significantly short of 50 shades of grey.

Not that West Virginia University didn’t try. The Mountaineers certainly did by donning gray onesie-looking uniforms with matching gray jerseys and gray pants.

But it was neither aesthetically pleasing nor athletically pleasing.

Did it cause WVU to lose 38-14 to Iowa State here Saturday in front of 51,836 fans in Milan Puskar Stadium?

Well, of course not.

But it didn’t help, either.

And the Mountaineers certainly needed all the help they could get, considering WVU was operating on a wing and a prayer during the second half.

That’s because WVU lost starting quarterback Austin Kendall on the Mountaineers’ first possession of the game. On WVU’s seventh play, Kendall was decked by blitzing Iowa State cornerback Anthony Johnson for an 8-yard loss resulting in a fumble that was recovered by the Cyclones’ Mike O’Laughlin at WVU’s own 26-yard line.

But that wasn’t the worst news.

That came when Kendall went straight into the Mountaineers’ locker room and didn’t return until the second half, when he appeared on the sidelines wearing a ball cap and sweat pants.

“The good thing is it’s not an arm or shoulder injury,” said WVU head coach Neal Brown during his post-game press conference. “It’s more in the chest area. We’ll know more in 24 hours.”

That’s the part that wasn’t pretty.

It meant the somewhat maligned backup quarterback, Jack Allison, had to stand in and step up. And, to be honest, the 6-foot-6, 210-pound redshirt junior probably did better than expected.

In a very controlled passing attack, which featured few downfield throws, Allison completed 18 of 24 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown.

He probably did as well as he could.

The problem was Allison got little help from anyone else other than slot receiver T.J. Simmons, who had five receptions for 75 yards and a TD.

Otherwise?

WVU’s beleaguered rushing attack — and I use the word loosely — managed only 41 yards on 28 carries for a meager 1.5 yards per carry.

What’s a backup quarterback to do?

Why, throw an interception midway through the fourth quarter, of course.

“I think it is tough for the backup quarterback to come in and have to play,” said Brown. “I think under the circumstances he did OK. “

Now for the it-wasn’t-Purdy-either part.

Iowa State star quarterback Brock Purdy came in with a spellbinding resume of spectacular running and throwing. But WVU’s defense held the sophomore in check as he completed 19 of 30 passes for 229 yards with a touchdown and interception.

As for rushing, better sit down.

Purdy managed only six carries for minus-15 yards.

The credit goes to WVU’s defense.

“It was 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter,” said Brown with pride. “I thought our guys played hard. We just ran out of gas. I thought we battled.

“I thought on defense we gave them some problems, schematically. We couldn’t get anything going in the second half offensively.”

Indeed.

WVU managed only 28 yards of total offense in the third quarter. And, then, Iowa State out-scored WVU 17-0 in the fourth quarter.

Add in the starting quarterback participating in only seven plays in the entire game and that’s the recipe for a defeat.

So much for those 50 shades of grey uniforms.

It’s certainly not what E.L. James intended.