Iowa State relies on big plays, fourth-down stop for snowy win over No. 19 K-State
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Abu Sama III ran through the snow for 276 yards and three touchdowns, Rocco Becht threw for 230 yards and three more scores, and Iowa State held No. 19 Kansas State on fourth down with less than a minute left for a 42-35 victory on Saturday night.
The shortest of the Cyclones' six touchdowns was a tying 33-yard pass from Becht to Jayden Higgins in the fourth quarter, and the longest was a go-ahead 82-yard pass to Jaylin Noel that gave Iowa State (7-5, 6-3 Big 12) the lead with 8:04 to go.
In between, Sama had TD runs of 60, 71 and 77 yards while finishing with the third-best rushing performance in school history. And the fleet-footed Noel had another 79-yard TD catch to finish with three grabs for 160 yards and two scores.
Kansas State (8-4, 6-3) had a chance to tie the game, twice converting on fourth down while marching inside the Iowa State 20. But on yet another fourth down, Will Howard's pass to the corner of the end zone with 59 seconds to go fell incomplete.
Howard finished with 288 yards and a touchdown pass, a TD run and an interception. Ben Sinnott had 10 catches for 136 yards and a score, while D.J. Giddens and Treshaun Ward also had touchdown runs for the Wildcats.
Heavy snow fell throughout the game, and more than a dozen workers tried valiantly to keep the yard lines and hash marks clear. But the field quickly became the kind of playing surface better suited for sled dogs and snowmobiles.
Players slipped, stumbled and slid. More than once, someone ran over a woebegone official, photographer or cheerleader when they couldn't stop at the sideline. There were fumbles, dropped passes and muffed kicks.
Through it all, the longtime Big 12 rivals kept producing in wildly different fashions.
Kansas State was content to mush through the snow on long, methodical drives, even if it meant converting on third and fourth down to keep them alive. Giddens and Ward did most of the work, but Howard's connection with Sinnott and wide receiver Jayce Brown was a big reason why the Wildcats were able to keep getting into the end zone.
Iowa State was perfectly happy scoring in one big play.
Sama took the first carry of the game 71 yards for a score, then the first carry of the second quarter 77 yards for another. He also had a 60-yard touchdown run in the second half, sandwiched around Brecht's 79-yard touchdown pass to Noel and his 33-yard pass to Higgins that knotted the game 35-all early in the fourth quarter.
The Cyclones had one more in them.
On third-and-16 at their own 18-yard line, Becht completed a pass to Noel well short of the first-down marker. But somehow, five different Wildcats failed to stop him and he ran untouched 82 yards for the go-ahead score.
Iowa State had already qualified for its sixth bowl game in the last seven years. Now, the destination could be a bit better.
Kansas State hoped that it would be playing for a chance to defend its Big 12 title on Saturday night. But when Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State won before the Wildcats kicked off, they were left playing for bowl positioning.
Both teams await their bowl destinations.