Iowa State still searching for 4th quarter solutions

After two-straight deflating losses - both with 17-0 fourth quarter margins - Cyclones (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) visit Texas Oct. 15

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STILLWATER, Okla. — For first-year Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell, the fourth quarter continues to be the enemy of his Cyclones.

In consecutive weeks, conference defeats to Baylor and Oklahoma State were punctuated with 17-0 deficits in the final frame that undid double-digit Iowa State leads.

Through the disappointments, Campbell insists his bunch isn’t folding up the tent. Rather, his team embraces the notion that Cyclone success will come once some small details, a play here or there, can be shored up to their advantage instead of the opponent’s.

“I think it’s been this way the whole year,” Campbell said. “Because our kids could have tanked it when we lost to Northern Iowa, they could have tanked it when we got blown out by Iowa and they haven’t. I think the one thing that I feel really good about is our kids believe the reality of, ‘Who’s going to step up? (Are) our best players going to continue to step up and make those plays?’ Those are things that separate winning and losing.”

Saturday at Oklahoma State, the Cyclones (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) earned a 31-14 lead with 5:55 to go in the third quarter. From that point, each team possessed the ball seven times. The Cowboys converted their opportunities into three touchdowns and a field goal, while Iowa State punted three times, had two turnovers, failed to convert a fourth down and saw the game end on a desperation lateral attempt.

“We’ve just got to finish,” junior receiver Allen Lazard said. “Not only in the fourth quarter, but in the second half. We left a lot of plays out there. We had two turnovers. I’ve got to step up. I probably had three or four drops, especially on third down where as a captain and as a veteran player I need to step up and make those plays.”

For the second year in a row, Iowa State carried a 31-21 lead into the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys cut the lead to 31-28 on the second play of the final frame, then forced a three-and-out on defense when Lazard dropped a 17-yard pass from quarterback Joel Lanning on 3rd-and-9 from the ISU 21. Oklahoma State promptly drove to the Cyclones’ 13-yard line and booted the tying field goal.

An Iowa State defense that had controlled much of the second and third quarters was on their heels. Given the similarities to the Baylor game the week before, was it “Here we go again?”

“I would say that it is what we’re trying to eliminate,” sophomore defensive back Brian Peavy said. “Getting that mindset out of our head and learning how to execute and finish the game.”

Iowa State – losers of 11-straight Big 12 road games since a 52-44 overtime win at West Virginia to close the 2013 season – visits Texas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) next week. The Cyclones blanked the Longhorns, 24-0, last Halloween in Ames.

“I’m not spooked,” Campbell said. “I’m energetic. I look forward to getting back. It’s another huge challenge for us.”

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