Iowa State finally won a close game. Coming into this one, the Cyclones had been on the losing end of most of their narrow games. They were 1-4 in games decided by seven points or less. The only close win coming against in-state, FCS Northern Iowa in triple overtime. Not anymore, though, as they knock off Texas with a walk-off field goal.
Iowa State played great the first half. They outgained the Longhorns by a significant margin. Unfortunately, for Matt Campbell and his team, yards don’t count for much, and it didn’t quite show where it mattered; on the scoreboard.
It seemed as though it was going to be a 10-0 at halftime after kicker Connor Assalley nailed a field goal with 47 seconds left in the half. However, Texas came out and drove the ball down the field for a touchdown against Iowa State’s prevent defense. The score made it a three point game and in an instant the Horns had the momentum.
The Cyclones have Brock Purdy, though. He started the second half with a 75-yard bomb to Deshaunte Jones. A couple of in-game minutes later, Brayden Narveson crushed a 48-yard field goal.
Just like that, Iowa State’s lead was up to 13.
Texas would not go away, though. With just over five minutes left in the game Sam Ehlinger did what he does best. He scrambled around in the backfield before finding an Malcolm Epps in the end zone to take a 21-20 lead.
Iowa State went three and out on their next drive, and things didn’t look good. However, the Cyclone defense did what they needed to do. They got a three and out of their own and the the offense the ball back with three minutes remaining.
Brock Purdy was able to do enough to get Iowa State within field goal range for one last shot at the win. Facing 4th and five with 2:16 remaining, The Cyclones attempted a 42-yard field goal to take the lead.
The kick went wide and it looked like the Horns were going to escape Ames with a win, but then the improbable happened.
Texas linebacker Joseph Ossai was flagged for offside on the kick. A five yard penalty. The mistake gave the Cyclone offense another try.
Three plays later, Iowa State had pushed the ball down to the Texas 17-yard-line with all but four seconds run off the clock. Assalley trotted onto the field for one last shot at the win.
As an Iowa State fan, I was damn near impossible to breathe before that field goal. Years upon years of missed kicks in crucial situations ran through the home crowd’s heads. Toledo in 2015 was the first one that came to many fans’ minds. This same kicker had gone 0-for-2 in the 2 point loss to Baylor earlier this season. On this slightly chilly November evening, he redeemed himself with an absolutely beautiful kick. Cyclones win as time expires, 23-21.
Key plays of the Game
12:02 2nd [4th & 2 at ISU 21] – This one wasn’t just the result of the play that was big, but also the play call. On 4th and short, Tom Herman decides to try and run it with Sam Ehlinger. An interesting choice when they were in field goal range and had had no semblance of a running game that day. The defense holds and even gets them to lose yards, and it’s Iowa State’s ball.
14:46 3rd [ISU 1st & 10 at ISU 25] – What a way to start the second half. Brock Purdy is able to extend the play by escaping a sack. After he rolls out, he sees a wide-open Deshaunte Jones and heaves it as far he can. Jones has to slow down quite a bit, but he was so wide open, he still made his way to the endzone untouched.
0:04 4th [4th & 9 at TEX 19] – The game-winner. Connor Assalley hits the buzzer-beater field goal from 36 yards out. Right. Down. The. Middle. Just like every other kicker who just made a walk-off field goal, he runs away from his team, knowing they’re about to pile on. He had good reason to run, considering it seems as though he injured his shoulder in the ensuing pile of Cyclones.
Key Stats of the Game
6 Penalties – Texas had a total of six penalties this game, with two of them being on Iowa State’s final game-winning drive. They definitely played a big part in the Cyclones having a very makeable field goal with only 4 seconds left on the clock. On top of that, it’s just not something you want to see against a well-disciplined team like Iowa State.
54 Rushing Yards – Jon Heacock and the Cyclone defense were able to hold Tom Herman’s offense to only 54 rushing yards on the day. It’s always good to stop a team’s rushing attack, but it’s especially true when they have a quarterback that likes to take off. Ehlinger was Texas’ leading rusher with only 27 yards.
3/3 FGs – Between Iowa State’s two kickers that played on Saturday, they were 100% on field goal percentage. Pretty big considering the kicking problems that they had been having all year, up to this point. Especially since one of those field goals was the game-winner.
Key Players of the Game
Brock Purdy – 30/48, 354 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT
Lawrence White – 10 Tot, 5 Solo, 1 Sack, 1 TFL
Connor Assalley – 2/2 FGs (Incl. 36-yard game-winner), 2/2 XPs
Bowl Eligible Baby – Many Iowa State fans were expecting and hoping for more this season, but the Cyclones are bowl eligible for the third consecutive season. A feat that hasn’t been achieved since the 2000 to 2002 stretch. Now, it’s just a matter of trying to get into the best bowl game possible. My hopes and money are on Orlando for the Camping World Bowl. Matt
Campbell vs The Big 12 – Matt Campbell has finally beaten every other team in the Big 12 at least once since he arrived to Ames in 2016. He is the first coach in Iowa State football history to do this. It’s a great accomplishment for what used to be a basement Big 12 program, but everyone knows Campbell has his sights set on bigger things in the future.