116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Campbell won’t cross ending a game with a bath of Cheez-Its off his bucket list this year.
Iowa State missed its chance at a Gatorade-style bath of the salty, cheese-flavored snack of its head coach after losing to No. 19 Clemson, 20-13, in the Cheez-It Bowl Wednesday night.
After the score remained within one possession or tied for most of the game, a disastrous turn of events put the Cyclones (7-6) in a hole they couldn’t escape.
Clemson (10-3) drove the ball 79 yards over 16 plays in the third quarter en route to the first touchdown of the evening.
Then two plays into the next drive, Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy had his pass tipped twice — he batted it the second time — before it was intercepted and returned for a Clemson touchdown.
In less than a minute, Clemson’s 6-3 lead ballooned to 20-3.
Iowa State brought it back to 20-14 on a 63-yard drive kept alive by a roughing-the-passer penalty and bookended with a Purdy-to-Charlie-Kolar touchdown pass.
The Cyclones had no shortage of chances for the win.
Iowa State had the ball with about seven minutes left and a 20-13 deficit, but two incompletions and a sack forced a punt. The Cyclones got the ball back again with fewer than two minutes left, but a Purdy fumble on a fourth-and-2 ended any hope.
Campbell praised the “guts of our kids to continue fighting, even down 20-3, and to have a chance to go win in the last drive.”
“It says everything about what our team and what this program is about,” said Campbell, who finished his sixth season leading the Cyclones.
Earlier in the game, three straight second-quarter drives into Clemson territory — including drives ending at the Clemson 5-yard-line and 25-yard line — resulted in three total points. A false-start penalty on the drive that ended on the 5-yard-line was the difference between a 3-3 tie and 7-3 lead.
Iowa State kept the Tigers’ offense at bay for much of the game. When the Tigers had opportunities, they also struggled to convert. Their first four trips into Iowa State territory resulted in two field goals made, a punt and a missed field goal.
“We knew we wanted to play a style of game to allow our defense to kind of give us the best opportunity to win the football game,” Campbell said.
But the Tigers eventually broke through with the 14-point third quarter.
It didn’t help that the Cyclones were without several starters. Running back Breece Hall and linebacker Mike Rose opted out of the bowl game. Campbell said Rose was dealing with an injury as well.
“Mike is just really trying to get back to full health, and he wasn’t there
Center Colin Newell was wearing a boot and did not play. Defense back Datrone Young also was out.
The loss marks a sour end of an era for Iowa State.
The Cyclones’ senior class — which includes Purdy, Kolar, Chase Allen and Rose — oversaw Iowa State’s biggest bowl win in program history and a regular-season Big 12 title last year.
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