The Texas Longhorns escaped from Ames with a 31-30 win over the Iowa State Cyclones Thursday night. A late touchdown drive, aided by two pass interference penalties and a pair of questionable calls on goal line fumbles, helped the Longhorns (3-2, 2-0) to the win. Iowa State (1-3, 0-1) nearly got into field goal range, but ended its final drive in an interception.
Texas halfback Johnathan Gray staked the Longhorns to an early advantage with a 45-yard touchdown run on the fourth play from scrimmage. After Texas extended their lead to 10-0, the Cyclones scored 13 unanswered points to establish a would-be halftime lead. But Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy connected with John Harris on a 44-yard touchdown on the last play of the half, and Texas led 17-13 at the break.
Texas pinned Iowa State deep in its own territory on a third-quarter punt. The Cyclones faced third and 9 from their own 3 when quarterback Sam B. Richardson dropped back into the end zone and threw a bullet to receiver Quenton Bundrage. The sophomore did all the rest, racing past the Texas secondary for a 97-yard touchdown.
Texas answered immediately with a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive to retake the lead. The Longhorns maintained that four-point lead as the fourth quarter began, but Iowa State forced a fumble at the Texas 37 and needed just three running plays to get into the end zone.
As it has all season, Texas struggled mightily against the Iowa State running attack. With the Longhorns on the ropes, Iowa State took full advantage. The Cyclones went 47 yards through five runs and one complete pass, kicking a field goal to go ahead 30-24.
Texas took the ensuing kickoff and quickly moved into Iowa State territory, with two pass interference calls against (the other) Sam Richardson assisting their advance. On a plunge from the Iowa State 2 with just over a minute to play, Johnathan Gray apparently had the ball stripped by Iowa State defender Jeremiah George. The referees called the runner down by contact and found insufficient evidence to overturn the call on replay, though. You be the judge.
Gray fumbled again on the next play, but recovered the ball. On third and goal from the one yard line, McCoy kept it for the game-winning touchdown. A last-minute Iowa State drive crossed midfield, but a Richardson pass was intercepted to seal the Texas win.
Box Score Hero: With the Texas running game floundering, Case McCoy was forced to throw 45 times. The backup quarterback was solid, completing 26 of those attempts for 244 yards and a touchdown.
Richardson had arguably his best game as a Cyclone, going 16/26 for 261 yards and two touchdowns. He added 77 yards on 16 carries, including a 21-yard scramble during a key second-quarter scoring drive. Halfback Aaron Wimberly ran 29 times for 117 yards, caught an 11-yard touchdown pass, and methodically wore down the Texas defense. Bundrage racked up 137 receiving yards on five catches.
Rankings Ramifications: Neither team is ranked, and Texas won't move into the top 25 with this win. Mack Brown has said the Big 12 Championship is its ultimate goal in 2013, and this does keep that goal alive.
But Did They Cover? The Texas line plummeted on news that David Ash would not play, but the one-point win did not cover even the most manageable of published point spreads.
Next Week's Schedule: Texas has nine days to prepare for the Red River Shootout against Oklahoma. Iowa State travels to Texas Tech next Saturday.