Iowa State roused the ghosts of its last win at Oklahoma nearly three decades ago with a stunning 38-31 victory over the Sooners Saturday in Norman, Okla.
Down a starting quarterback and a key defensive player, the Cyclones spotted OU a 14-0 lead and twice erased 14-point deficits – just like the 1990 team did in its 33-31 victory on Oklahoma’s home field. ISU hadn’t beaten the Sooners since and surprised the previously undefeated national championship contenders with an even more stunning defeat than that of 27 seasons ago.
With quarterback Jacob Park taking a leave of absence from the team and linebacker Willie Harvey back in Ames nursing an injury, Iowa State outscored OU 25-7 in the second half to improve to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big 12 Conference play. I-State returns home next week to play Kansas.
Kyle Kempt, a walk-on senior starting in place of Park, connected with Allen Lazard on a 25-yard touchdown pass with 2:19 to play for the game winner. It was the third scoring pass of the day for Kempt, who completed 18-of-24 passes for 343 yards in the win.
Nobody personified the victory more than senior Joel Lanning, who became the first Cyclone player since Dave McCurry since 1971 to take meaningful snaps on both sides of the ball in an ISU game. Lanning fought for a key fumble recovery inside the I-State 10-yard line to give the Iowa State defense its first stop of the day. He also recorded a big sack in the fourth quarter. And Lanning returned to the quarterback position in off-and-on relief of Kempt as well, rushing for 35 yards and passing for 25 more. By game's end, Lanning had logged 57 snaps on defense, 13 on offense and eight on special teams.
It was Iowa State’s second win all-time over a team ranked in the AP top five, taking a place alongside the home field overtime victory over No. 2 Oklahoma State in 2011. That victory clinched bowl eligibility for the Cyclones six year ago, but ISU lost its next three games, followed with another six-win season in 2012, and then tanked in 2013, never really capitalizing on the big victory and taking the program to another level.
The challenge for Matt Campbell and staff now is to make sure Saturday’s win at Oklahoma leads to something more. If it doesn’t, the stunning win was no more than a fun, fantastic and fabulous fluke.
The Cyclones looked uninspired as Saturday’s game began in Norman and Oklahoma bolted to a 14-0 lead as a result. A 46-yard catch and run by David Montgomery on Iowa State’s second series was the first sign of life on either side of the ball for ISU. The possession ended with a 25-yard Garrett Owens field goal to get I-State on the board with 1:20 to go in the first quarter.
After an Oklahoma field goal made it 17-3 early in the second quarter, Iowa State responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, aided by a pair of major penalties against the Sooners. Montgomery scored on a two-yard run and Owens added the PAT to make it 17-10 Sooners with 6:12 to play in the half.
Oklahoma scored on its fourth straight possession on a 13-yard Baker Mayfield run to make it 24-10 with 2:43 to play in the half. After an exchange of punts, Kempt stunned the Sooner defense with a 54-yard pass to Hakeem Butler that carried all the way to the OU 15. Oklahoma held there and Owens knocked through a 32-yard field goal that made it 24-13 going into halftime.
Iowa State took the opening possession of the second half and turned it into three more points on Owens’ third field goal of the game, making it 24-16 with 9:45 to play in the third quarter. Lanning’s big fumble recovery stopped OU’s next drive on the I-State 6-yard line and the Cyclone offense marched 94 yards the other way, capped by a 28-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Marchie Murdock at the 2:07 mark of the third quarter. Kempt connected with Lazard on a two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 24.
Oklahoma drove into Iowa State territory again on the next series with Austin Seibert missing wide right on a 44-yard field goal attempt with 13:43 left in the game, keeping it tied at 24.
Iowa State used another explosive pass play on its next series to take the lead for the first time. Trever Ryen dashed 57 yards down the right sideline with a screen pass from Kempt, pulling away from a speedy OU secondary with a burst that ended in the end zone. Owens added the PAT and the Cyclones led, 31-24, with 12:46 to play.
Oklahoma answered. Mayfield drove OU 75 yards on 10 plays, capped by a one-yard Dimitri Flowers touchdown run. Seibert’s point-after tied the game up again at 31 at the 7:18 mark.
The Cyclones moved 75 yards on nine plays the next time they had the ball, capped by Kempt’s TD pass to Lazard on a 3rd-and-7 play from the Sooner 25-yard line. Owens tacked on the extra point to make it 38-31 with just over two minutes left to play.
Iowa State got the game-winning stop with 1:15 to play when Mayfield’s 4th-and-4 pass was broken up by Brian Peavy. The Sooners had previously burned their last two timeouts earlier on the possession, leaving ISU nothing left to do but kneel out the win in victory formation.
Montgomery rushed for 55 yards and caught seven passes for another 89 to account for 144 all-purpose yards. Ryen had 99 receiving yards in the win for ISU and Lazard added 69. The Cyclones totaled 449 yards of offense with 254 coming in the second half. Oklahoma finished with 513 yards, but only 210 of those game in the Sooners’ seven-point second half.
Reggie Wilkerson was Iowa State’s leading tackler with 13 stops. Lanning and Marcel Spears had eight tackles each and Evrett Edwards and Kamari Cotton-Moya chipped in seven stops apiece.
Mark D. Smith