Iowa State wins a close one. I’ve been waiting to write that sentence all year. Connor Assalley, in all of his glory, is the most popular person in Ames, Iowa tonight. Iowa State seemed to have this game won the whole time, but needed the last three seconds to secure a victory. Matt Campbell is the first coach in Iowa State history to beat every single team in the Big 12 conference.
Iowa State’s first drive had great rhythm. The run blocking looked the best it’s been all year. Breece Hall got four carries for 40 yards on the Cyclones’ first drive. Brock Purdy found Charlie Kolar wide open in the endzone, and it was 7-0 in a hurry. Purdy’s touchdown put him at 21 passing for the season setting a new single season record… we still have three games left.
Texas struggled immensely to move the ball only getting one first down the entire first quarter. Iowa State’s defense was absolutely elite top to bottom. Run plays were getting blown up in the backfield. Sam Ehllinger’s scrambling was very well contained. Mobile quarterback, and securing the edges of the field had been something the Cyclones have struggled against.
Texas had multiple 3rd and short opportunities and the Cyclone’s D did not budge. Texas was threatening in the red zone and Iowa State’s D-line stopped Ehlinger on back to back plays forcing a turnover on downs.
Unfortunately, Iowa State’s other side of the ball couldn’t capitalize on the shutout that the defense was pitching. Outside of the Cyclone’s electric first drive, the offense stuttered the rest of the first half. Purdy threw a poor pass in traffic that led to an interception.
None of the blame could be put on the O-line or the run game that looked near unstoppable the whole half. Breece Hall appeared to get a boost to his shifty attribute in the pre-game, and Breece Lightning was unleashed on Texas’ defense. Iowa State was stalled just past midfield, and in a third and short situation they opted to throw. The Cyclones went for it on 4th down, again passing downfield.
Breece Hall has proven himself to get the ball in that situation. The O-line looked great all half, and it was the sole error of play calling in the first half.
Iowa State got the ball rolling offensively nearing the end of the second quarter. Purdy threw five straight completions to tear the Cyclones to within striking defense. Two incompletions forced State to kick a field goal, and Assalley connected on a 35 yard field goal. (Remember this)
Texas got the ball back with 47 seconds left and let me tell you, prevent defense is the WORST. Texas looked like they had practiced solely against Iowa State’s prevent defense all week. Sam Ehlinger found every pocket of space in the defense, shredding the Cyclone secondary.
Ehlinger found Texas wide receiver Brennan Eagles taking it easy in the smallest corner of the end zone I’ve ever seen. After the catch was ruled complete at about the half yard line, the play went under review. In real time it looked incomplete, after review it was ruled a touchdown. A 30 second 75 yard touchdown drive. A disappointing end to a dominant first half, for the most part, 10-7 Cyclones.
Campbell was cooking up a can of touchdown soup at halftime, the first play from scrimmage of the second half the Cyclones scored a touchdown. What appeared to be a sack, Purdy beat two Texas linemen in the backfield and threw up a bomb of a prayer to WIDE OPEN DeShaunte Jones did the rest. Before you could sit down with your halftime concessions, the Cyclones led 17-7.
Iowa State’s defense continued to be untouchable the whole third quarter. Halfway through the third, Texas had twice as many punt yards as total offensive yards in the game. Texas didn’t get a first down until two minutes left in the third quarter.
Iowa State added on three points on a 48 yard long field goal from Brayden Narveson. Narveson appears to be the power kicker of the team. Special teams other shining moment came on a fake punt? It didn’t work but Chase Allen was met with some contact before the ball got to him.
Texas finally got the ball moving for the second time all game near the end of the third. Ehlinger connected on short passes in a monotonous drive. Texas appeared to be stopped on third down on a deflected pass. Iowa State was charged with defensive holding giving Texas life right before the 4th. Ehlinger found running back Keaontay Ingram streaking down the middle of the field for a touchdown.
This felt like the momentum shifter. What felt like an Iowa State win since the first kick, it felt like it was a ball game. 20-7 is not a huge lead, but Iowa State appeared to be absolutely stifling on defense.
Iowa State got the ball back but do nothing with it on a three and out. Texas was pinned to the 14 yard line in their worst field position of the game. Then the nightmares start.
Ehlinger begins to get free, and picking up chunks off of scrambles. The quick pass game is becoming lethal. Ingram makes a great one hand snag off of a desperation throw by Ehlinger after being pressured. After Texas failed to convert third downs all day, they couldn’t be stopped.
A holding call pushed them back for a 2nd and 20, and the next play offensive pass interference gave the coaching staff an option. Either 3rd and 20, or 2nd and 35. Both seem like good options. Iowa State took 2nd and 35, and gave up a 30 yard pass play on the following play.
Texas got another big gain on the following drive knocking on the Cyclone’s door. It took Texas till 4th down before they could score. Ehlinger had all the time in the world, and even after scrambling around in the pocket he miraculously found Malcolm Epps.
Iowa State’s offense continued to struggle against a very much talked about bad pass defense. Texas contained Purdy to a critical 4th and 5 with about five minutes left. The Cyclones appeared ready to go for it but after a delay of game had to punt. Giving Texas the ball back. Texas rushed twice for little to no gain, before an incomplete pass. Texas punted it 78 yards after Tarique Milton let it roll instead of fair catching a line drive ball.
4th quarter and not a lot of time left, Brock Purdy has the opportunity for a come from behind win. The Achilles heel of this Cyclones team is close games. All of Iowa State’s losses have been by a single possession. Purdy completed the first two passes. The second was a sideline catch by Pettway who was also called for pass interference.
The very next play, Purdy took a shot down field that resulted in another defensive pass interference that set up Iowa State with a new set of downs on Texas’ 30 yard line. Iowa State got five yards, but failed to convert on third down.
And then, the scariest 10 words in sports.
Iowa State takes the field for a game winning kick.
But HOLD THE PHONE. They jumped the count, offsides for Texas. The ol’ hard count on the field goal, or as Campbell called it “A rhythmic snap count” The penalty resulted in five yards and an automatic first down. Even better, Naverson wasn’t even close on the kick that wouldn’t count.
Iowa State was able to run down the clock all the way to four seconds setting up a crucial 36 yarder. Texas had no timeouts to ice the kicker, one snap and one kick.
Assalley, nailed it, he BLEEPING nailed it. Iowa State won a close game, one that seemed to have been slipping out of their hands the whole 4th quarter. WRNL has always been kicker friendly, it’s the hardest position in sports, and may Connor Assalley’s cup never go empty in the bars of Welch Street.
Sweet Caroline plays sure, but then miraculously, inexplicably, Juicy Wiggle comes on and what a scene. Jack Trice felt absolutely electric. This team, these players are absolutely special. What might get lost in all of this, Iowa State is a bowl team for the third straight year in only the second time in school history.