Nov 13, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15) hands the ball to running back Breece Hall (28) in the first half during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Sometimes, you dig yourself a hole too deep to escape. Sometimes, you give an opponent you should beat too much early confidence — and it spills into the rest of the game. And sometimes — sad as it may seem — seasons apparently perfectly set up for historic success are doomed by a lot of wouldas, shouldas, and couldas.
That’s where Iowa State finds itself after an unthinkable 41-38 loss Saturday at Texas Tech.
Red Raiders kicker Jonathan Garibay drilled a 62-yard field goal as time expired.
The Cyclones’ slim hopes of playing for a Big 12 championship vanished — and there’s no one to blame but themselves.
“We dug ourselves such a hole that it would have taken a perfect game in the second half to at least give ourselves the opportunity to win,” ISU head coach Matt Campbell said on the Cyclone Radio Network after the game. “We were damn near there, but man, we can’t do those things, especially in conference play.”
The Cyclones (6-4, 4-3) trailed the Red Raiders (6-4, 3-4) all day and were consistently beaten downfield in the passing game as they fell behind by as many as 17 points.
Still, quarterback Brock Purdy, along with a wobbling and dinged-up ISU defense, fueled a second-half comeback that saw the Cyclones tie the game, 38-38, on an Andrew Mevis field goal with 1:00 left.
But the defense couldn’t slow new Tech starting quarterback Donovan Smith enough to avoid the last-second heartbreak.
Garibay had hit a 45-yard field goal earlier in the game, but he’d never even attempted a kick of 50 yards-plus in his career. His 62-yarder, then, was well off the charts — and once again sent ISU shuffling for answers in a season that will most definitely not end with a shot at a Big 12 Championship.
“It’s the one lesson that this team has yet to overcome, it’s the fact that we’re getting everybody’s absolute best shot,” Campbell said. “And we have to be ready to play. There’s been a couple games where we run out of time because we haven’t started the way we ended to.”
Breece Hall scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) for the Cyclones despite finding little room to run and Purdy threw for 356 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Charlie Kolar. He was intercepted twice.
Tech averaged 7.9 yards per play and converted 8 of 14 third down chances.
Smith shredded ISU’s pass defense, completing 25 of 32 passes for 322 yards and three touchdowns while suffering through just one fluke interception.
He was great. Garibay was even better. Tech ended a five-game skid against the Cyclones who now must regroup Saturday at Oklahoma before closing the regular season against TCU at home.
“We’re purpose and process-driven,” Campbell said. “Can we go back and correct and continue to try to correct the areas that we haven’t fixed, and continue to move ourselves forward? I have a great feeling the leadership of this football team will continue to fight that way.”