Iowa State Cyclones

Iowa State 23, No. 19 Texas 21: Connor Assalley puts Cyclones on the right side of a close game

Cyclones get a second chance late, and Assalley kicks the 42-yard game-winner as time expires

Iowa State Cyclones kicker Connor Assalley (96) kicks the game-winning field goal against the Texas Longhorns Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State Cyclones kicker Connor Assalley (96) kicks the game-winning field goal against the Texas Longhorns Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames. (Reese Strickland/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES — Iowa State was all set up for a long field goal on fourth-and-5, down by one point late in the fourth quarter Saturday against Texas.

Bayden Narveson, the Cyclones’ distance kicker, was in to attempt the 42-yarder. Just before the snap, Texas jumped offside to give Iowa State the first down. To make matters worse for the Longhorns, Narveson missed the field goal.

Iowa State ran the ball three times and on the third run, quarterback Brock Purdy centered the ball.

Kicker Connor Assalley went in to attempt the 36-yard, potential game-winning field goal.

He drilled it with no time left, and Iowa State beat No. 19 Texas 23-21 at Jack Trice Stadium.

It was Iowa State’s first walk-off kick since 1983.

Just before Assalley went on to attempt the kick, Campbell told his kicker something.

“It was pretty simple,” Campbell said. “It was just, ‘I love you, whatever happens, happens, hang on to your process and you’ll be awesome.’ And he was awesome.”

Assalley added that Campbell also told him a joke — like he does before every field goal.

“I never remember the joke — I never listen to him,” Assalley said, laughing. “I always give him a smile.”

For the first time all season against a Big 12 opponent, the Cyclones (6-4, 4-3) came out on top in a close game.

“It’s one of those things for our coaching staff, it’s one of those things for our players — we’ve played in so many of these games and I think we’ve done a really good job of handling the end of football games,” Campbell said. “Whether we’ve won or lost, we’ve done a really good job of handling the details of putting us in the best position to win the game.

“We talk a lot right now about taking the next step in this program, and part of that is being present. That’s really hard to do in our sport and it’s really hard to do in the chaos of college football — especially at the end of games. The ability to be present, in the moment, is a big step. That’s not easy to do. I think our staff continues to do a good job of it and our players continue to do a good job of it.”

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Iowa State was able to put itself in position by forcing a three-and-out and then driving 63 yards to get in position for the game-winning field goal.

“It’s key to get big plays early in drives like those,” Purdy said. “You’re backed up inside our own 20 and we had to get out of there and make some key plays. (Receiver) Deshaunte (Jones) did that, the offensive line gave me some time and we connected and then you get a rhythm right after that. Then we got the catch from La’Micael Pettway. You have to make those kinds of key plays in contested situations to win a game when it’s one the line.”

An underrated aspect of that drive was long snapper Steven Wirtel. He recognized Texas (6-4, 4-3) had been trying to time the snap the whole game and Wirtel delayed the snap on Narveson’s would-be attempt to draw Texas offside and give Iowa State another first down.

“On that one, I waited a little smidge longer than I usually do,” Wirtel said. “I saw that white jersey coming and I snapped it when he broke the plane. After that I heard the ref say, ‘Offside, 43 white.’”

Campbell was impressed.

“I think that’s the craftsmanship of Stephen Wirtel, honestly,” Campbell said. “Those are things we work on and we practice and Steve’s one of the best in the country, so to not snap the ball on the ‘ready’ — and have the discipline to do that with our guys right away — that was big. I thought Steve was outstanding.”

Iowa State lost its four games by a combined 11 points. It looked like it was going to be five losses by a combined 12 points until Assalley came through.

“I could not be prouder of our kids,” Campbell said. We’ve lived here, in these close-game moments, all year long. It’s great to make the ball bounce our way. I’m really happy for our kids, they’ve continued to fight when everybody has written us off at times. But our kids just keep playing.

“It’s an honor to coach this team because of who they are and what they stand for.”

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