MANHATTAN, Kan. — The Iowa State football team has been on the wrong end of some painful losses to Kansas State in the last decade.
A last-second Wildcats touchdown is yet the latest chapter in the series.
Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson tossed a 1-yard touchdown as time expired to help the Wildcats beat the Cyclones 20-19 in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Wildcats (7-5, 5-4) have beaten the Cyclones (7-5, 5-4) 10-straight times.
Kansas State’s game-winning drive was 10 plays and 87 yards, taking 1 minute, 55 seconds. ISU had an opportunity to seal the game on its last possession, but two incompletions on second and third down with just more than two minutes left forced them to punt.
Three penalty flags, all of which were thrown against Kansas State, were picked up including a defensive pass interference on a defender covering wide receiver Allen Lazard on the last ISU possession.
“I said this after the Oklahoma State game, officiating is hard,” ISU coach Matt Campbell said. “It’s a tough business, it’s a tough profession and those calls could have probably gone either which way. It’s unfortunate because I thought at least the last one certainly looked that way.”
Quarterback Kyle Kempt returned as the ISU starter after missing last week’s win against Baylor with an arm injury. The Cyclones were without David Montgomery for all but the first series of the game as he deals with an ankle injury sustained last week.
Kansas State went three-and-out on its first drive of the second half, and ISU responded with a sustained drive that ended in the end zone. Joel Lanning rushed for nine yards on third down, Kempt found Deshaunte Jones for 34 yards on third down, and Marchie Murdock caught a 9-yard touchdown pass, again on third down, to give ISU a 12-7 lead.
Another quick drive from Kansas State gave the Cyclones another chance to snag some offensive rhythm. A 10-play, 62-yard drive that lasted 6:12 ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Kempt to Hakeem Butler to give ISU a two-score lead with less than 8 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
Butler was flagged for taunting after the play, and Kansas State took a short kickoff inside the red zone but was flagged for holding near midfield. A KSU assistant arguing the call received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that pushed the Wildcats back to their own 17-yard line.
The Wildcats responded to the flags with a 13-play, 68-yard drive in 7 minutes, 28 seconds with a touchdown of their own. The KSU offense used a healthy dose of ‘wildcat’ offense, but it was a jump pass from Alex Barnes to Winston Dimel that made the score 19-14 in favor of ISU with just more than six minutes remaining.
“They’re persistent,” Lazard said of Kansas State. “They play hard the entire game, and they don’t change what they do and they go out there and are obviously very well-coached and execute.”
ISU executed a methodical 15-play drive on its first possession of the game, going 56 yards in 7:14, but couldn’t punch it into the end zone. Senior Garrett Owens drilled a 36-yard field goal to help the Cyclones overcome three penalties in the first seven-plus minutes. ISU committed five first-quarter penalties.
Montgomery had four carries for 14 yards with one catch for six yards in the first ISU drive, but didn’t return to the game. He left the game at Baylor last week with an ankle injury.
Kansas State only had one full possession in the first quarter, but scored the lone touchdown of the first half when quarterback Skylar Thompson ran it in from three yards out to give the Wildcats a 7-3 lead. It was set up by a 43-yard punt return by Dominique Heath.
On Kansas State’s second possession of the second quarter, Thompson overthrew wide receiver Byron Pringle with ISU junior cornerback Brian Peavy in position to return an interception for a touchdown. The pass fell harmlessly to the ground when Peavy lost the ball in the sunlight.
Owens tacked on a 22-yard field goal with less than 90 seconds to go in the half, but ISU missed another good opportunity to punch in a touchdown. Catches of 18 and 32 yards by wide receiver Allen Lazard set ISU up 1st-and-goal at the five-yard line, but the Cyclones failed to convert and settled for the short kick.
ISU outgained Kansas State 191 to 53 in total yards in the first half, but penalties and inconsistent play stymied a number of chances to tack on more points.