MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Iowa State proved its seasonlong bid to raise its standards was more than a slogan.
Allen Lazard tied a Liberty Bowl record with 10 catches and put ISU ahead with an impressive 5-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter Saturday as the Cyclones beat No. 19 Memphis 21-20 on the Tigers’ home field.
The victory gave Iowa State (8-5) its first bowl win since a 2009 Insight Bowl triumph and marked the Cyclones’ third win over a Top 25 team this season. That’s the step forward Iowa State had in mind when it made “Raise The Standard” its team motto.
“The thing that finally resonates in our program is that this can happen,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said, “not only with our players but the people outside of our program, that success and winning football games at Ames, Iowa, can really happen.”
Iowa State’s progress was evident in the way it held on to win after its only lost fumble of the season. ISU was attempting to become the first FBS team to go an entire season without losing a fumble.
The Cyclones led 21-20 and had third-and-goal from the 1 when David Montgomery fumbled as he was crossing the goal line. As the play was reviewed, Campbell told his players he hoped the call wasn’t overturned because it would enable the Cyclones to show how they’d matured since a 20-19 loss to Kansas State in their regular-season finale.
“Coach was out there preaching to us in the defensive huddle this is what we wanted, to show people that we’d learned from what we’d been through,” linebacker Joel Lanning said.
Memphis (10-3) drove to the Iowa State 40 but lost the ball when Riley Ferguson overthrew Phil Mayhue on fourth-and-10 with 1:52 remaining. The Cyclones then ran out the clock.
“It was kind of hard getting the ball out, but at the same time, I’ve got to find a way to make a play,” said Ferguson, who went 21 of 33 for 286 yards and two touchdowns but was sacked six times. “There on the last play, I’ve got to find a way to make that throw to Phil, no matter whether I have pressure on my face or not.”
Iowa State pulled ahead 21-17 with 4:28 left in the third quarter when Kyle Kempt’s pass appeared to be deflected just before Lazard caught it in the back of the end zone.
The touchdown came after a roughing-the-passer penalty wiped out an interception by Curtis Akins and gave the Cyclones first-and-goal.
Lazard had 142 yards receiving in his final college game and was named the Liberty Bowl’s most valuable player. The only other players to catch 10 passes in a Liberty Bowl were Louisville’s Deion Branch in 2000 and Arkansas’ Bobby Joe Edmonds in 1984.
“I just went out there today and gave it my all,” Lazard said. “I kind of tweaked my ankle a little bit, but I only had a certain amount of time and I’d be damned if I (was going to) stand there and watch the offense go to work without me.”
Memphis had the benefit of playing a bowl game on its home field — where it hadn’t lost all season — though enough Iowa State fans traveled to the game to make the sellout crowd of 57,266 a pretty even split.
Lazard’s 10th touchdown catch of the season also set a school record.
The Cyclones held the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense to its second-lowest point total of the season despite missing two key players, with defensive back Evrett Edwards ruled ineligible and safety Kamari Cotton-Moya suspended for a violation of team rules.
Next season, ISU will seek back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2004-05. But the Cyclones lose a lot of leadership as they attempt to replace a senior class that includes Lazard and linebacker Joel Lanning.
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