NORMAN, Okla. — Despite a hearty rally, there would be no Norman conquest this time.
Two years after Iowa State went to Oklahoma as a 31-point underdog and won, the Cyclones rallied from a 21-point deficit and pushed the mighty Sooners to the brink of another defeat.
Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy threw for 282 yards and accounted for six total touchdowns, but his two-point conversion attempt to win the game with 24 seconds left was intercepted and the Cyclones fell at No. 9 Oklahoma, 42-41, in a Big 12 football game before 83,541 fans Saturday night at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
“The courage, the toughness,” Iowa State Coach Matt Campbell said. “I said this before. I am going to say it again. It is one of my most favorite teams I have ever coached. I love their resolve. We are not perfect. I certainly wish we were. I see us continuing to grow in so many ways and I thought our character showed tonight in a low of ways. Obviously we were a point short, but boy, I could not be prouder of what our team stands for and I really look forward to watching us get back to work.”
Iowa State (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) trailed by three touchdowns both at halftime and at the end of the third quarter, but completely dominated the final frame. In the fourth quarter, the Cyclones outgained the Sooners in yardage, 142 to 25, forced two turnovers and scored 20 unanswered points.
The pivotal final sequence began with the Cyclones trailing, 42-35. Iowa State junior free safety Lawrence White intercepted a pass from Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts that gave the Cyclones the ball at the Sooners’ 35-yard-line with 2:43 to go.
“Just trying to make a play for my team,” White said. “Get the ball back for the offense and do my job. That was my biggest thing. My job was to catch the ball, something I didn’t do in the first half. I got another opportunity and I just had to make the most of that.”
Eight plays later, Purdy found Oklahoma native Charlie Kolar for a 13-yard touchdown that pulled Iowa State within 42-41 with 24 ticks left on the clock. According to Campbell, Purdy’s stellar fourth quarter play made the decision to go for two and the win an easy one.
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“I would rather put the game in his hands,” Campbell said. “I trust him. I believe in him. He is unbelievable.”
On the two-point try, Purdy faced heavy pressure from blitzing Oklahoma linebacker DaShaun White and was forced to throw the ball left to receiver La’Michael Pettway just as Kolar broke free in the middle. Pettway and Oklahoma cornerback Parnell Motley jostled for the ball, which Motley corralled.
“I was just trying to go through my progressions,” Purdy said. “I just felt a guy coming, sort of just in my face. I just tried to get the ball out to Pettway as fast as I could. I understand that Charlie ended up opening up. That is on me again. I have got to anticipate that better.”
Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1) scored touchdowns on its first two offensive possessions. The Sooners took the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards in four plays, capped by a 48-yard touchdown pass from Hurts to junior receiver CeeDee Lamb. The second Oklahoma drive covered 56 yards in seven plays, with Hurts running the ball into the end zone for a 14-0 Sooners’ lead less than six minutes into the contest.
Prior to Saturday night, the Iowa State defense had allowed just one touchdown in the first quarter all season.
“We dropped three interceptions in the first half of the game,” Campbell said. “Did some good things offensively. Had a couple of three and out’s early. Did not help our defense.”
The Iowa State offense entered the game with just seven drives all season that ended with three downs and a punt. The Cyclones had two such occurrences on their first two drives against Oklahoma.
Iowa State found some offensive footing midway through the first quarter when Purdy connected with sophomore receiver Tarique Milton for a 40-yard touchdown that cut the Cyclones’ deficit to 14-7 with 4:21 left in the first quarter.
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Hurts responded with second quarter touchdown passes of seven yards to freshman Trejan Bridges and 63 yards to Lamb, a Biletnikoff Award candidate who raced and weaved his way through the Iowa State defense for 59 of the yards for a 28-7 Oklahoma lead with 8:14 left until halftime.
Purdy’s second touchdown of the first half – a 23-yard toss to junior tight end Dylan Shoener – got the Cyclones within two touchdowns, but Hurts plunged forward for a two-yard score that pushed the Sooners’ halftime lead to 35-14.
By halftime, Hurts had posted 232 yards passing and 75 rushing with five combined touchdowns. After halftime, he threw for just 41 yards and lost seven yards on the ground as Oklahoma scored just once in the final 30 minutes.
“Eliminated the big plays,” White said. “That is something we did better. We did better at tackling and that was something we struggled with in the first half and it got to us.”
As the Iowa State defense locked down the Sooners, Purdy heated up. In the second half, the Arizona native ran for 42 yards and a score and threw for another 151 with fourth quarter TD passes to Chase Allen, Sean Shaw and Kolar as the Cyclones charged back from their 42-21 hole.
“We knew coming in here it wasn’t going to be easy,” Purdy said. “We just had to stay present in every single drive. Even when things didn’t go our way, we knew that we just had to keep chipping away for the next drive.”
Kennedy Brooks ran for 132 yards and a 48-yard TD for Oklahoma, while Lamb caught eight passes for 167 yards and two TDs.
Iowa State freshman tailback Breece Hall ran for 110 yards and caught four passes for 33.
Former Cedar Rapids Washington prep O’Rien Vance recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter for Iowa State, which has lost back-to-back games for the first time since losing at Iowa and at home to Oklahoma last season.
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The Cyclones are now in fourth place in the Big 12, tied with Kansas State and behind Texas, which visits Jack Trice Stadium next Saturday.
“The reality for us is it is not really about the opponent,” Campbell said. “Obviously Texas is a great team and a great culture, all those kind of things. But it is more about us. I think that is the thing that I have really appreciated about this group. We have never looked in the past. We have really tried not to look ahead. We have always kind of had the ability to look at ourselves, figure out what we did well, what we didn’t do well and get back to work and obviously that is what it is going to take for this team to continue to move forward.”
AT NORMAN, OKLA.
No. 9 Oklahoma 42, Iowa State 41
Iowa St. 7 7 7 20—41
Oklahoma 14 21 7 0—42
OKL—Lamb 48 pass from Hurts (Brkic kick), 13:42
OKL—Hurts 8 run (Brkic kick), 9:28
ISU—Milton 40 pass from Purdy (Assalley kick), 4:21
OKL—Bridges 7 pass from Hurts (Brkic kick), 14:18
OKL—Lamb 63 pass from Hurts (Brkic kick), 8:14
ISU—Soehner 23 pass from Purdy (Assalley kick), 6:00
OKL—Hurts 2 run (Brkic kick), :03
ISU—Purdy 4 run (Assalley kick), 10:22
OKL—Brooks 48 run (Brkic kick), 3:47
ISU—Allen 3 pass from Purdy (Assalley kick), 14:56
ISU—Shaw 33 pass from Purdy (Assalley kick), 3:35
ISU—C.Kolar 13 pass from Purdy (pass failed), :24
RUSHING—Iowa St., B.Hall 18-110, Purdy 15-55, Lang 2-24, Mitchell 1-8, D.Jones 1-0, (Team) 1-(minus 2). Oklahoma, Brooks 15-132, Hurts 22-68, Sermon 1-14, Stevenson 1-12, Pledger 1-2, (Team) 1-(minus 2).
PASSING—Iowa St., D.Jones 0-1-0-0, Purdy 19-30-0-282. Oklahoma, Hurts 18-26-1-273.
RECEIVING—Iowa St., B.Hall 4-33, D.Jones 4-18, Allen 3-33, Milton 2-67, Pettway 2-46, C.Kolar 2-29, Shaw 1-33, Soehner 1-23. Oklahoma, Lamb 8-167, J.Hall 3-21, Rambo 2-15, Willis 1-24, L.Morris 1-17, A.Miller 1-16, Bridges 1-7, Brooks 1-6.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.