The Iowa State Cyclones (3-8, 2-5) blew yet another 4th quarter lead against the Kansas State Wildcats (4-7, 1-7) to lose in Manhattan 38-35, giving the Wildcats their first conference win of the season. The Cyclones fumbled in three of their last four possessions, including one with ten seconds left that set up a game-winning field goal for the Wildcats as time expired. The loss marks Paul Rhoads' 7th straight loss to Bill Snyder, and in six of those games the Cyclones led at some point in the 4th quarter.
Iowa State looked dominant in the first half. Mike Warren ran for almost as many yards as the entire K-State offense, including a beautiful 76 yard touchdown run that will go into the record books as the 12th longest rush in school history. Joel Lanning threw two touchdowns to Allen Lazard, the second counting only after the original incomplete pass ruling was overturned. Meanwhile, Kansas State's only points came on a kickoff return for a touchdown, and a touchdown jump pass thrown by fullback Glenn Gronkowski to other-fullback Winston Dimel. The Cyclones took a 35-14 lead into halftime, and it appeared the Purple Wizards' curse might finally be coming to an end.
But true to form, Iowa State came out and completely fell apart in the second half, going so conservative that you'd have sworn the ghost of Dan MacCarney was roaming the sideline at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Still, the Iowa State defense appeared to do just enough to preserve the win, holding the Wildcats on 4th down with 2:27 left on the clock and a 7 point lead.
And then Mike Warren fumbled on the next play. Kansas State jumped on the opportunity and never looked back, driving 55 yards in four plays to tie the game at 35. To add injury to insult, Warren appeared to be seriously hurt on the exchange, and did not re-enter the game.
The Cyclones got the ball back and attempted to simply run the clock down to take the game into OT, but yet another fumble (this one on a rollout by Joel Lanning) on the second play of the drive gave Kansas State the ball back deep in Iowa State territory. the Wildcats spent one play centering the ball and then Jack Cantele lined up to boot a game-winning 42 yard field goal through the uprights.
It's hard to say at this point how much of this was vintage Cyclone piss-it-down-your-leg second half ineptitude, and how much was the last act of the goddamn purple wizard roaming the sidelines in Manhattan. Maybe it doesn't really matter, when you watch the football gods wind up halfway through the 4th quarter, knowing their foot will soon be connecting with your testicles. Either way, this one hurts in a uniquely Cyclone way; a way that few other fan bases will ever know.
Feel free to vent in the comments.