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Football

Allen Lazard’s week-old tweet foreshadowed Saturday’s stunner

 AMES — Iowa State star receiver Allen Lazard composed the tweet a few hours after last week’s 45-27 loss at Baylor.

 He wanted to encapsulate the defiant and energized mood of an improving team that nonetheless had dropped to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the Big 12.

 The Cyclones’ leading pass catcher didn’t play that day in Waco because of a shoulder injury, but he still clicked that blue button — and the togetherness-boosting declaration spread like social media wildfire, setting the stage for Saturday’s momentous 24-0 blanking of tradition and resource-rich Texas on Halloween night.

 “I was just saying that people hate on me, hate on my coaches, hate on Iowa State just in general and that regardless of what other people say, all that matters are those people in the locker room and our coaching staff,” said Lazard, whose viral tweet was favorited more than 1,200 times.  “We don’t care. We’re going to stick together and we’re going to fight for four quarters and beyond that if need to.”

 The “beyond” part wasn’t needed Saturday before a homecoming crowd of 53,616 at Jack Trice Stadium.

 ISU (3-5, 2-3) utterly dominated the Longhorns (3-5, 2-3) from the first whistle to the closing horn — forcing them to endure their first shutout against an unranked team since 1961.

 "It gives us momentum going into the next game (at Oklahoma)," said safety Qujuan Floyd, who led ISU with eight tackles. "And we can feed off that.”

 The Cyclones out-gained Texas 426 yards to 204 and the defense delivered a red zone stand at the five-yard line in the closing seconds to preserve their first goose-egging of a conference foe other than Kansas since a 41-0 trouncing of Baylor in 2001.

 “Guys were saying, ‘Keep the zero on the scoreboard,’”  said former walk-on and now starting linebacker Levi Peters, who helped set the tone with his first of two sacks on the Longhorns’ opening three-and-out series. “That’s important to our defense. That kind of shows who we are.”

 And who they’ve become.

 Texas failed to record a first down on seven drives. Its total offense sat at a dismal 127 yards — until the last-gasp and ultimately failed attempt to dent the scoreboard down the stretch.

 By then, ISU fans were celebrating. The game had long been won. First-time starting quarterback Joel Lanning was watching from the sidelines as Longhorns playcaller Tyrone Swoopes’ final pass attempt to Marcus Johnson fell incomplete.

 “We just kept together as a brotherhood and we just kept fighting and it’s great to get a ‘W,’” said Lanning, who threw for 188 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 64 yards despite being sacked six times.

 ISU’s longest touchdown drive came on its second possession — the one preceded by Peters’s first sack. It spanned 66 yards and the nation’s leading freshman rusher, Mike Warren, capped it with a three-yard run. Warren finished with 157 yards on 32 carries and topped the 100-yard plateau for the fifth time in the past six games. His season total climbed to 954 yards — and he’s a mere 46 from becoming the Cyclones’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Alexander Robinson accomplished the feat in 2009.

 “It means a lot to the (offensive) line,” Warren said of his swift ascent toward 1,000.

 Saturday’s result, as ISU coach Paul Rhoads said in an abbreviated postgame news conference, meant a lot to everyone affiliated with the program. The Cyclones were plus-one in turnover margin, aided by an athletic sideline interception by Jordan Harris. They beat Texas at home for the first time in program history — and just the second time in 13 tries overall.

 “We’ve always believed — and I still believe — we have a good football team,” Rhoads said. “We had one loss (66-31 at Texas Tech) that was embarrassing to us; humiliating to us. Other than that our football team has fought, prepared and done the things we’ve asked of them. They haven’t performed at a high enough level to gain some victories over some folks like that Today they did, from start to finish, in all three phases.”

 Lazard’s fateful Tweet didn’t make that happen. It did, however, galvanize the team as it faced a tumultuous week that included Todd Sturdy replacing Mark Mangino as offensive coordinator.

 “He summed it up in that one tweet,” Warren said. “I think a lot of people saw it, especially all the football players and we came into the team room the next day after he tweeted that and we talked about it. From then on, We’re just like, ‘OK, we’ve all got to stick together no matter what happens.’”

 Even Saturday’s triumph. Four games remain and the Cyclones likely won’t be favored in any of them, which, of course, is nothing to Tweet about. 

 “We’re going to enjoy this win tonight,” said Lazard, who led the Cyclones with 66 receiving yards and eclipsed 1,000 in his young career. “It’s a huge win in our program — having a shutout versus Texas and having that third (win) at home, third one of the year. So we’re just happy with the win and we’ll move on tomorrow.”

R

Rob Gray

administrator

Rob, an Ames native, joined Cyclone Fanatic in August, 2014 after nearly a decade and a half of working at Iowa's two largest newspapers. He spent 10 years at the Des Moines Register and, after a brief stint in public relations, joined the Cedar Rapids Gazette as an Iowa State correspondent three years ago. Rob specializes in feature stories for CF.

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