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No. 22 Texas vs. Iowa State final score: Anthony Cook forces fumble to help clinch 24-21 win for the Longhorns

Following the Red River Shutout, the Longhorns maintained the momentum with their first win over the Cyclones since 2018.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 22 Texas Longhorns have turned in two blowout victories since the loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders and return to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for a matchup against a desperate Iowa State Cyclones team looking for its first win in Big 12 play.

Kickoff is at 11 a.m. Central on ABC.

Among the storylines for the game:

  • Can the Longhorns end the three-game losing streak to the Cyclones?
  • If Texas has a second-half lead, can head coach Steve Sarkisian’s team maintain it?
  • Can quarterback Quinn Ewers play as well as he did against Oklahoma versus the Iowa State Flyover defense?
  • How does Sarkisian try to unlock a defense that defends the run and well better than anyone else in the conference?
  • Can Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense keep playing at a high level facing an offense aspiring to mediocrity?

With the schedule toughening in the coming weeks, including trips to Stillwater and Manhattan sandwiched around the season’s only bye week, this is an important game to take care of business and come away with the home win, especially if the Longhorns want to play in Arlington come December.

Recruiting updates

Quarterback commit Arch Manning is on the Forty Acres, along with some of his high school teammates and many of the other Texas pledges.

And after Manning encouraged Oklahoma edge commit Colton Vasek to “just stay home,” the Austin Westlake product is reportedly visiting for Saturday’s game.

First quarter

After Texas won the toss and deferred to the second half, Iowa State started out behind the chains early when quarterback Hunter Dekker scrambled for a short gain prior to a false start penalty. A four-yard run set up 3rd and 10 for the Cyclones and Dekkers was forced to check down. And then the Longhorns finally got to another punt as running back Keilan Robinson took it off the foot of the Cyclones punter. Texas had a chance to scoop and score, but had to settle for possession at the Iowa State 21-yard line.

The offense got off to a slow start, however, as a rush for no gain, an incomplete pass, and a short gain by wide receiver Xavier Worthy on a crossing route forced a field-goal attempt by Bert Auburn, who missed from 39 yards.

The Texas defense missed a sack opportunity on a first down play-action pass that resulted in another check down, eventually leading to a stop by the Longhorns on 3rd and 2. Iowa State lined up for a 4th and 1 attempt, but took a delay of game and punted, setting up Texas with good field position at its own 41-yard line.

Despite failing to handle the snap cleanly on first down, Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers hit wide receiver Xavier Worthy on a deep crossing route, but the drive quickly bogged down with a significant loss on outside zone and then a holding penalty on left guard Hayden Conner as Ewers completed another pass. Then Ewers avoided a big mistake when Iowa State blew up a screen, but Ewers threw it backwards for a loose ball he was able to recover.

Iowa State found some rhythm in the passing game with three straight completions, including one by Jaylin Noel that featured a big collision with two Texas defenders. A short run and a snap infraction slowed the momentum for the Cyclones, ultimately forcing a timeout. Iowa State was able to convert a third and long with an 11-yard pass to enter the Texas red zone. A keep from Dekkers on a zone read set up 3rd and 2 and Keondre Coburn jumped offside on a hard count to give the Cyclones a first down deep in Longhorns territory. Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell saved a delay of game penalty by taking his second timeout of the half before two run stuffs by Texas preceded a blown coverage on third down that produced a five-yard touchdown catch by Noel.

The Longhorns finally produced a positive running play with a gap scheme to gain seven yards to start the drive, then Ewers found tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders for an 18-yard gain on a catch that showed off the impressive hands of Sanders. But just before the first quarter ended, running back Bijan Robinson showed off his own strong hands on a check down that resulted in a six-yard loss and put the Longhorns behind the chains again.

Second quarter

Two running plays allowed the Longhorns to attempt a 4th and 3 conversion, but Ewers missed wide receiver Casey Cain on a potential touchdown, throwing the ball too far to the sideline for Cain to adjust to it.

Iowa State continued to gain yards through the air, completing two passes for 27 total yards as Texas cornerback Ryan Watts went down with an injury to his left shoulder on his seventh tackle of the game. The Longhorns appeared to get a stop on third down, but cornerback D’Shawn Jamison was lined up in the neutral zone. With Iowa State deep in Texas territory again, defensive tackle Alfred Collins picked up a tackle for loss to force another third down and linebacker Jaylan Ford came up with a massive interception in the end zone to avoid a 14-0 deficit.

The offense quickly bogged down again with a short rush on first down and Ewers failing to connect with Cain again, this time when the wide receiver stumbled during his route. Facing 3rd and 8, Texas took its first timeout of the first half and Ewers was able to complete a pass to Sanders under pressure, a play extended on a roughing the passer penalty. Wide receiver Jordan Whittington converted another third down as the Texas offense started to move the ball for the first time, then gaining a first down on two runs by Robinson. Worthy completed the nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown catch on a nice throw from Ewers.

After a big hit by Texas running back Roschon Johnson on kickoff coverage, Noel dropped two passes to start the drive, but a catch by wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson moved the chains. Another incomplete pass and a short run put the Cyclones into another third and long situation and Iowa State opted to punt after a six-yard completion on 3rd and 8.

Robinson finally got loose to start the ensuing Texas drive, gaining 25 yards on first down, Ewers checked down to Sanders for a six-yard gain, and Robinson moved the chains with his own check-down catch. The patient, run-heavy drive started to draw on the clock as Sarkisian called a timeout with 32 seconds remaining facing a 1st and 10 from the Iowa State 35-yard line. Split out in the slot, Robinson caught a 25-yard pass from Ewers on a beautiful extended catch.

Capitalizing on the important drive before halftime, Whittington caught his first touchdown of the season on a well-executed slant route and celebrated with Bevo, whom he’d told before the game that he was finally going to score a touchdown on Saturday.

Third quarter

A long kickoff return by Keilan Robinson was negated due to a hold called on safety Michael Taaffe, but Bijan Robinson continued to find more holes and continued to make defenders miss. Ewers then connected on his seventh consecutive pass and Johnson came in to gain more positive yards with a nine-yard run on first down before moving the chains on second down. Robinson subsequently came close to breaking a long run before a potentially touchdown-saving tackle. Texas continued moving the ball on the ground into the Iowa State red zone, where the drive stalled after some physical play by Iowa State defensive backs that prompted consecutive calls for flags by Longhorn receivers. Auburn came through, however, hitting from 31 yards to make it 17-7.

A dropped pass and a misfire from Dekkers forced a 3rd and 10, but another completion from a bunch formation to Hutchinson produced a first down. Hutchinson then beat Texas safety Jerrin Thompson for another chunk gain and some momentum for Iowa State. A second-down sack by Longhorns defensive lineman Moro Ojomo stalled the rhythm and forced a missed 46-yard field goal attempt by Jace Gilbert.

Texas went three and out on offense and a 31-yard punt by Daniel Trejo failed to flip field position in favor of the Longhorns and allowed the Cyclones offense another chance to reduce the 10-point deficit.

It only took two plays for Iowa State to take advantage when Noel ran away from backup cornerback Austin Jordan on 2nd and 2, eventually scoring from 58 yards when Cook ran himself out of the play biting on the play-action fake. It was the longest passing play given up by the Longhorns this season.

With Ewers rolling out of the pocket and Iowa State busting a coverage, Cain was wide open for a potential touchdown, but dropped the ball, stalling the drive, which ended quickly thereafter.

Despite getting Iowa State into third and long once again, Texas once again gave up a conversion with a completion over the middle in front of coverage, ending the third quarter.

Fourth quarter

Taking advantage of cornerback Terrence Brooks on 3rd and 13, Dekkers connected with Hutchinson for a 21-yard gain into the Texas red zone. On 3rd and 9, Dekkers couldn’t find a wide receiver, but did find a crease in the Longhorns man coverage and ran for an 11-yard touchdown to take the lead, 21-17.

The running game picked up again to start a crucial drive with Robinson and Johnson picking up solid yardage to get well into Iowa State territory on four strong efforts. The Cyclones finally got two stops as the Longhorns faced a critical 3rd and 6, on which Sarkisian dialed up a running back screen that gained 13 yards. On 1st and goal, Johnson trucked a defender to get down near the goal line. Breaking tackles, Robinson got down to the 1-yard line, but got stuffed on third down, drawing a timeout from Sarkisian. After the break, Worthy beat his defender on a pivot route to secure the lead once again, 24-21.

A third-down stop by Texas in Longhorns territory produced a 4th and 2. The Cyclones went back to its star, Hutchinson, who was able to create separation from a rub route, but on the following play, Hutchinson broke stride on a busted coverage and dropped a diving catch attempt instead of possibly catching the ball in stride and scoring. After another incompletion, Campbell called timeout facing 3rd and 10 in four-down territory. Against soft zone coverage, Hutchinson converted over the middle. On the next play, Dekkers was hit on a run by Cook, knocking the ball loose and resulting in a recovery by Texas. Replay checked to see if the knee of Dekkers was down, but the ruling on the field stood for the first fumble recovery by the Horns this season.

Two runs by Robinson and one by Johnson forced Iowa State to burn its final timeouts before Texas picked up the critical first down to set up the victory formation for the Longhorns, who picked up the 24-21 win to end the losing streak against the Cyclones.