The Oklahoma State offense broke Iowa State’s defense in the No. 12 Cowboys’ 49-42 win over No. 24 ISU, ending ISU’s hopes for a Big 12 title shot.
A late, game-tying drive ended with a disputed call in the end zone, as Zeb Noland’s pass to Marchie Murdock was picked off by Oklahoma State’s A.J. Green in the back corner of the end zone as Green and Murdock came down fighting for possession.
Noland, playing in place of Kyle Kempt (who did not play after the second quarter), and the Cyclones were stunned, and a review confirmed the call.
“I think (the officials) felt like (Green) had possession of it when they came down on the ground,” ISU coach Matt Campbell said. “It’s one of those bang-bang calls. I can sit here and we can complain about it, we can whine about it, but that’s not who we are and that’s not what we do.
“I’m sure there’s a million different plays we could have made in the game not to put it in that situation. They’ve got a tough job, and that was a tough situation.”
Murdock, who did not speak with the media after the game, was less forgiving of the determination.
“THEY ROBBED ME,” he wrote on social media. ”“If it’s a tie ball.... possession is to offense.... ROBBED.”
The play, which was reviewed and upheld by instant replay officials, certainly was a close one.
“I think we scored,” running back David Montgomery said, “but the refs have the last say.”
Kempt and Noland performed well, and Joel Lanning played another heroic game against a team from Oklahoma, but the Cyclones offense was disjointed in the fourth quarter, until a potential game winning drive with three minutes left, while the Cowboys’ fire power pushed them over the top.
Kempt started the game at quarterback, leading touchdowns on ISU’s first two drives, the first culminating with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Allen Lazard, but did not appear after the waning minutes of the second quarter because of an arm injury.
Down 21-14 with just under three minutes left in the first half, Noland engineered a seven play, 91 yard drive, finished off by Lanning’s rushing touchdown, from one yard, out with 22 seconds left in the half.
“For the kid being a redshirt freshman and this being his second or third time playing in a college game, it’s huge what he did,” Lanning said of Noland. “He was throwing routes, he was on time, a good connection between guys. He kept us in the game. That’s what we needed from him.”
The Cowboys and Cyclones went to halftime tied at 21, and the Cowboys opened the second half with a field goal.
ISU answered on the next drive with a touchdown run from David Montgomery, one of three for Montgomery on the day, and then after an two-play, 82-yard touchdown drive by Oklahoma State, Lazard tipped a pass from Lanning from his right to his left hand as he fell backwards out of bounds.
ISU went up 35-31 early in the fourth quarter on Lazard’s tipped catch.
Noland dissected the Cowboys’ defense for a four-play, 75 yard touchdown drive to give ISU a 42-34 lead and answer an Oklahoma State field goal.
Not to be outdone by Lazard, however, Oklahoma State’s Marcel Ateman answered with an acrobatic touchdown catch over D’Andre Payne, and, after two consecutive ISU penalties, Justice Hill punched in a two point conversion try to tie the game.
After ISU’s offense went three and out in just 42 seconds, Mason Rudolph found Dillon Stoner from 19 yards out for the go-ahead touchdown to put the Cowboy’s up 49-42.
The Cyclones went three and out on the next drive, too, and punted. After using forcing ISU to use all three timeouts, the Cyclones got the ball back at the 13 yard line.
Noland found Lazard for a 30-yard snag on the first play of the drive. Several plays later, the Cyclones found themselves with a disputed ball in the end zone waiting for the call.
The interception was confirmed, and the Cyclones dropped to 6-4 overall and 4-3 in the conference.