Assalley field goal saves Cyclones in last-gasp win over Texas


Garrett Heyd/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy pumps up the students after a big win against University of Texas on Nov. 16, 2019. Iowa State won 23-21.

Noah Rohlfing

Connor Assalley lined up a 36-yard field goal with four seconds on the clock. Thirty-six yards separated Iowa State from what would have been a fourth loss by two points or less and a walk-off win over the No. 22 Texas Longhorns. 

Right down the middle.

“It’s just a testament to our team,” Assalley said. “We always play to the next play.”

Assalley’s walk-off kick won the Cyclones their first game against the Longhorns under coach Matt Campbell, and in the process, he saved Iowa State’s offense after a difficult second half Saturday night.

Iowa State didn’t throw any tricks at Texas with its game-plan — the Cyclones utilized freshman running back Breece Hall early and often, controlling the line of scrimmage in the first half. Hall and the Cyclones marched down the field and a two-yard Charlie Kolar reception from Brock Purdy made it 7-0. A Connor Assalley field goal was all Iowa State was able to get the rest of the half, but the Cyclones controlled possession. 

A first-down 75-yard touchdown pass to Deshaunte Jones on the first play from scrimmage of the second half put Iowa State up 17-7 again. It looked as though the Cyclones were in complete control of the game and on their way to a convincing win. 

“[Doesn’t] that, like, exemplify Brock Purdy?” Campbell said. “I’d love to tell ya we dialed it up that way and that’s how it was gonna be. It’s total Brock Purdy.”

A 48-yarder from redshirt freshman Brayden Narveson put Iowa State ahead by 13 and in cruise control, with the offense firing off well and Purdy having a generally mistake-free day apart from an early interception. 

Then the Cyclones stalled. Texas stiffened up defense at the line of scrimmage, keeping Hall and the run game in check. Purdy’s throwing lanes were suddenly closed, leading to a couple of near-picks and some missed chances for Iowa State to put Texas away. 

Add in an ill-timed and failed fake field goal, and it was a recipe for the Longhorns to get back in the game. 

Iowa State’s drives ended in punts — and handed Texas opportunities. 

After a second Texas touchdown of the fourth quarter with less than five minutes to play, the Cyclones had a chance to pull the game back. 

The drive stalled at midfield and led to another punt. It was up in the air whether the Cyclones would get another shot with the ball.

At their own 18 and with three minutes and change left on the clock, the Cyclones got their final chance. 

Quick completions to Deshaunte Jones and La’Michael Pettway moved Iowa State into Texas territory. Then, a Texas pass interference penalty put the Cyclones into field goal range, and after failing to convert on third down, Narveson trotted out onto the field. 

From 42 yards out, he hooked it wide left.

But there was a flag on the field, and the play was blown dead. Offsides on Texas — and a first down for the Cyclones. 

“When they jumped, I was like ‘alright let’s go,'” Purdy said. “We just went out there and got a couple more key yards and got us in better position.”

From there, Iowa State ran the clock down to four seconds and brought out Assalley. 

His kick rang true — the first walk-off field goal for the Cyclones at Jack Trice Stadium since 1983 — and some demons were exorcised for the Cyclones, after four losses of seven points or less through the season’s first nine games. 

“I’m so proud of Connor and the work he’s put in, the work he’s done in the time he’s been here,” Jones said. “I’m just so happy for him to get that spotlight, that moment of joy and happiness.”