Cyclones Come Up Painfully Short in 31-30 Loss to Texas
By Rob Gray, Correspondent and Josh Christensen, Reporter
AMES, Iowa — Paul Rhoads hugged Jeremiah George.
The Iowa State football coach had just seen his senior linebacker make an apparent game-saving play in the waning moments of Thursday’s nationally-televised Big 12 season opener against Texas at Jack Trice Stadium.
But appearances — including the Cyclones’ dominance in the running game — proved to be just that in a draining, punch-to-the-gut 31-30 loss before an angry crowd of 52,672.
And the ire spread.
“I’ve got the privilege as the head football coach of this football program to face my players — win or lose — and look them in the eye,” a defiant Rhoads said. “And feel how proud I am of the work they put forth and the effort they gave tonight. And to make a play at the one-yard line. With our backs against the wall. Clear to everybody — and have it taken away from them, that’s hard to express.”
Texas running back Johnathan Gray had been ruled down before George’s strip, which would have likely preserved one of the signature upset wins Rhoads and his team is is well-known for.
An official review followed.
One minute, eight seconds remained.
History — a first ISU home win over the Longhorns — hung in the balance.
And Rhoads heard the same thing everyone else did: “the call was confirmed.”
That, in his view, didn’t make it correct.
Not by a long shot.
“The whistle never blew,” George said.
Case McCoy eased into the end zone less than 30 seconds — and another Gray fumble — later and the Cyclones could drive no further than just beyond midfield before time expired.
“I’ve got pretty good eyesight,” Rhoads said after his team fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in league play. “The view I had of that gigantic screen in the end zone showed a guy that was not down and our guy with the football.”
It was a bitter end to what Rhoads referred to as a game featuring a couple teams “playing their hearts out.”
Big plays abounded.
Power football — for ISU anyway — reigned.
The Cyclones rushed 50 times for 201 yards.
Texas (3-2, 2-0), ran 29 times for 119, or nearly 100 below its average.
ISU’s main man was Mr. One-Cut, tailback Aaron Wimberly.
He rushed 29 times for 117 yards and a touchdown.
He also caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in the first half.
“He’s a man,” Rhoads said.
It’s a description he draped across his entire team, which fell to 1-10 all-time against the Longhorns but played harder and looked stronger most of the game on the interior.
Quarterback Sam Richardson completed 16 of 26 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns and a fluke interception to end the game.
His biggest play, to receiver Quenton Bundrage spanned 97 yards.
It was the longest pass play from scrimmage in Cyclone history.
It also put ISU ahead 20-17 in a see-saw second half in which the lead changed four times.
“Very proud,” Rhoads said. “That’s a great football team we played.”
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