Iowa State drops controversial game on last second play to Kansas State

David Montgomery pushes past defenders and continues up the sideline during the Iowa State vs Texas Football game. Longhorns won 17-7. 

Jack Macdonald

All the Iowa State defense had to do was dominate the Kansas State offense like it had done all day long.

There was 1:55 left in the game. Iowa State was winning 19-14 and Kansas State needed to march 87 yards to score. In the first half, the Wildcats managed only 58 total yards of offense. In the second half, up until the final drive, it was held to 114 yards.

The odds were in the Cyclones’ favor to stop Skylar Thompson and the Wildcats offense. Instead, Thompson picked apart Iowa State’s defense and made an instant classic as he scrambled in the pocket and delivered a game-winning touchdown pass with no time left on the clock to propel the Wildcats past Iowa State.

And, much to the dismay of Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, Kansas State got the ball back in a controversial way. The Cyclones were driving with just under 2:30 left in the game and were faced with a third-and-six. Kyle Kempt dropped back into the pocket and fired a pass in the direction of Allen Lazard. Lazard dropped the ball, but a flag was thrown on the play.

“I really respect the officials and what they do because I know their job isn’t easy just like ours isn’t,” Lazard told Alex Halsted of 247Sports. “It’s just hard to look back at this game and not question it.”

However, after a quick discussion, the officials determined that there was no defensive pass interference and picked the flag up. While this might seem like an innocent mistake, it wasn’t the first time it happened in the game. On three occasions, the officiating crew picked up flags that were thrown in favor of Iowa State.

“[The referees] said it just wasn’t conclusive,” Campbell said of the flags picked up. “It’s hard to tell… Officiating’s hard. It’s a tough business, it’s a tough profession and those calls probably could have went either which way.”

Nonetheless, despite the loss, Iowa State stood tall on defense once again. In the games entirety, the Cyclones allowed 264 total yards, most of which came in the second half. They held the Wildcats to just five third down conversions, but the final drive of the game exposed the Cyclones’ pass defense.

Iowa State’s pass defense ranks third in the Big 12 in passing yards per game. Its opponents average 7.2 yards per pass against the defense, but on the final drive today it allowed six passes that went for seven or more yards.

Clearly, Thompson found ways to expose the pass defense, but the Cyclones did a good job all game denying him of a steady pass game. Through three quarters and most of the fourth quarter, the Iowa State defense held Thompson to 74 passing yards – he had 78 on the final drive.

“Coach [Jon] Heacock and our staff on defense has done a great job,” Campbell said. “Our kids have played good football all year long… It’s just a growth process.”

While the defense shined for almost the whole game, the Iowa State offense sputtered at times. The offense was whistled for seven flags, while the defense was tagged with two.

The nine flags were dealt to an Iowa State team that averages 4.09 penalties per game, which is good for seventh fewest in the country.

Although the flags showed the negatives, the offense had several bright spots. Kempt returned from injury and threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns.

Arguably the biggest story from the offense was when running back David Montgomery went down with an injury early in the game. Montgomery, who was injured last week against Baylor, started the game and carried the ball four times for 14 yards, but gave way to Sheldon Croney. The redshirt sophomore rushed for 63 yards on 13 carries and added another 15 receiving yards.

“Yeah, [David Montgomery] will be alright,” Campbell said. “I don’t think it’s anything major or long, so we’ll get David back and ready to rock-and-roll.”

And like usual, the receiving corps had an all-around effort against the Wildcats. Lazard led the group with 95 yards, but four other receivers had 20 or more yards as well.

Although the regular season finale ended with a rollercoaster ride, Iowa State will have another shot to tack on one last win when bowl season rolls around. It’s also to be noted that bowl preparation will take place as Campbell rumors fly around the college football coaching carousel. But Campbell noted that he’s in it for the long haul in Ames.

“We’ll be back at practice next Friday ready to go,” Campbell said.

“We’re here for the long haul, we’re gonna build this thing the right way and we’re gonna do it with those guys.”