Iowa State 23, Texas 21 – What we discovered from Cyclones' closing …

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Matthew Bain

Des Moines Register

Published 1:20 PM EST Nov 17, 2019

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Iowa State 23, Texas 21: What we learned from Cyclones' last …

About Cyclones'

AMES, Ia. — That was close.

With a 36-yard field goal as time expired, Connor Assalley gave Iowa State a 23-21 win over Texas, giving Iowa State a 6-4 record and bowl eligibility for the third straight season.

Iowa State 23, Texas 21: What we learned from Cyclones' last …

Brock Purdy finished with 354 yards and two touchdowns on 30-for-48 passing. Breece Hall continued his stellar freshman tear with 101 yards on 24 carries. La’Michael Pettway and Deshaunte Jones combined for 15 catches for 244 yards and a touchdown. And Lawrence White led the defense with 10 tackles.

But what people will remember from Saturday was that dramatic final drive and the Assalley field goal that was perfect. 

Here’s what we learned from a dominant Saturday from Iowa State:

Finally, a different kind of nail-biting finish.

Iowa State football has gotten used to heartbreakingly close finishes this season. 

The 1-point loss to Iowa … the 2-point loss at Baylor … the 7-point loss to Oklahoma State … the 1-point, last-second loss at Oklahoma.

Ouch, ouch, ouch and ouch. 

But not this Saturday. The Cyclones bent but didn’t break in the second half — at least when it mattered most — and came out on top in a thrilling finish.

“It was great to make the ball bounce our way a little bit,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said after the game. ” … Our teams are going toe-to-toe with every team in this conference.”

Iowa State’s difficulty finishing drives strikes again, except when it really needed it. The way this game’s first two quarters went, it felt like the Cyclones had convincingly shown they were the better team.

Their offensive and defensive line units especially stepped up, dominating Texas’ big boys up front the way they’d been dominated in a 24-10 loss in Austin last year. On the other side of the ball, Iowa State’s offense out-gained Texas 201-134, and most of Texas’ yards came one its one scoring drive right before halftime.

And yet, the Cyclones led only 10-7 entering the break. 

It felt like they should be up more — a feeling that’s grown all too familiar for this team.

They got into Texas territory three times and scored twice, turning the ball over on downs at the Longhorns’ 33 late in the first quarter.

Twice more in the second half, Iowa State drove into Texas territory but failed to put points on the board: a turnover on downs from the Longhorns’ 31 midway through the third, then a punt from Texas’ 38 late in the third.

Ultimately, in the end, when they really needed it, the Cyclones got the job done — thanks to a final stand from the defense, clutch plays from Purdy and his receivers, and a major assist from Texas, who got called for offside on Brayden Narveson’s missed 42-yard field goal.

That gave Iowa State a fresh set of downs, allowing it to set up Assalley’s game-winning 36 field goal that split the uprights. 

A summary of the game-winning drive: nine plays, 63 yards, three minutes. Purdy started on fire with a 15-yard pass to Jones and a 22-yard pass to Pettway to begin the drive. Helped by a Texas pass interference call, and the aforementioned offside, Iowa State set itself up for the game-winning field goal.

It felt like Iowa State may have lost this game during one particular stretch in the fourth quarter. With a first-and-10 on Iowa State’s 38-yard line, the Longhorns, whose offense had come to life in the second half, were called for holding. That pushed them back to the Cyclones’ 48 and stalled their momentum.

After an incomplete pass, on second-and-20, Texas receiver Brennan Eagles was called for offensive pass interference. If Iowa State declined the penalty, Texas would have had a third-and-20 from the Cyclones’ 48. If it accepted the penalty, Texas would have second-and-25 from its own 37.

Matt Campbell opted for second-and-35.

Next play? A 30-yard completion from Sam Ehlinger to Eagles.

After that? A 26-yard pass to Devin Duvernay for a first down, all the way to Iowa State’s 7-yard line.

Ouch. 

Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal, Ehlinger found Malcolm Epps for to put Texas up 21-20 with 5:37 left.

Do you like cheese? Or camping? Because, with the win, Iowa State is 6-4 and eligible. Representatives from the Cheez It Bowl and Camping World Bowl had seats in the press box at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday.

Matthew Bain covers recruiting, Iowa/Iowa State athletics and Drake basketball for the Des Moines Register and USA TODAY Network. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.

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Published 1:20 PM EST Nov 17, 2019