By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — AMES —Texas squeaked by Iowa State 31-30 in a back and forth football game that wasn't decided until the final minute.
The Longhorns put together a scoring drive that culminated with a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Case McCoy that gave Texas a victory and perhaps spared Mack Brown another wave of criticism from those who want somebody else to sit atop the revered football program. For the Cyclones, it was a painful loss in a game that could have gone either way.
Iowa State went three and out in its first offensive series. The Longhorns first drive was spared from an early exit by a pass interference call. Texas capitalized on its good fortune when Johnathan Gray rushed 45 yards for a touchdown to give the Longhorns an early 6-0 lead with 12:06 left in the first quarter.
The Longhorns' Jefferson Jeffcoat sacked Sam Richardson for a loss on the first play of the Cyclones' second series. Richardson, however, prevented a second three-and-out series by scrambling for a first down on third down. Iowa State's offense continued to move the ball downfield until their drive was ruined by penalties.
Cyclones gifted the Longhorns tremendous field position when Jeffcoat recovered a James White fumble on the Cyclones own 16-yard line. Iowa State, however, made a big defensive stand and the Longhorns had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Anthony Fera that grew their lead to 10-0.
Iowa State's next offensive series was spearheaded by 13- and 22-yard pass completions to tight end E.J. Gibbs. The drive also was helped by a 13-yard run by Aaron Wimberly. The drive ended with a 37-yard field goal by Cole Netten. Later in the second quarter, the Cyclones embarked on a 15-play, 92-yard drive that lasted over seven minutes and culminated with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to Aaron Wimberly that tied the game at 10.
The touchdown seemed to light a fire under the Cyclone defense, which forced the Longhorns to kick the ball back to Iowa State after three plays. At this point, the pendulum had completely shifted to Iowa State's side. Richardson connected with Justin Coleman for a couple of completions that put Iowa State within field goal range. Then, Netten gave Iowa State its first lead of the game by booting a 41-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the half.
The Longhorns managed to advance the ball to midfield, but it looked like they would run out of time. But, in the last play of the half, Case McCoy launched a 44-yard Hail Mary that John Harris pulled down in the end zone to give Texas a 17-13 lead at the half.
The Cyclones recaptured the lead in the third when Richardson hit Quenton Bundrage cutting across the middle of the field and the Cyclone receiver took it 97 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown was the longest pass play in Iowa State history and the longest play in the history of Jack Trice Stadium. Netten kicked the extra point to give Iowa State a 20-17 lead. Texas used an admixture of pass interference calls and a flurry of solid runs by Joe Bergeron to take back the lead. The offensive series was punctuated by a 6-yard touchdown run by Bergeron that gave the Longhorns a 24-20 lead.
The Cyclones answered Texas' touchdown early in the fourth. Iowa State began its scoring drive with great field position after Jared Brackens recovered a Bergeron fumble on the Longhorns' 37-yard line. A few plays later, a determined Weberly bolted through a hole and dashed 24 yards far a touchdown, running through a pair of Texas defenders right before he reached the end zone. The strong run provided Iowa State with a 27-24 lead.
About midway through the fourth, another offensive drive began to materialize for the Cyclones. Richardson scrambled 17-yards for a first down at Texas' 13-yard line. Iowa State wasn't able to get the ball across the goal line, but it did get a 29-yard field goal from Netten to put the Cyclones up 30-24 with 3:40 left in the game.
Texas, assisted by a number of key Cyclone penalties, advanced the ball within the Longhorns' 5-yard line with a little over a minute left in the game. McCoy eventually scored on a quarterback sneak to put the Longhorns ahead 31-30 with 51 seconds remaining. The Cyclones were unable to put together a scoring drive and Texas escaped Ames with a win.
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