Iowa State slips past Memphis in Liberty Bowl
MEMPHIS — Iowa State proved a seasonlong bid to raise its standards was more than just a slogan.
Allen Lazard tied a Liberty Bowl record with 10 catches and put Iowa State ahead with a remarkable 5-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter as the Cyclones beat No. 19 Memphis 21-20 Saturday on the Tigers’ home field.
The victory gave Iowa State (8-5) its first bowl victory since a 2009 Insight Bowl triumph and marked the Cyclones’ third win this season over a team in The Associated Press Top 25. 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.”
The progress was evident in the way the Cyclones held on to win after their only lost fumble of the season. Iowa State was attempting to become the first Football Bowl Subdivision team to go an entire season without losing a fumble.
The Cyclones led 21-20 and had thirdand-goal from the 1 when David Montgomery fumbled as he was crossing the goal line. As replay officials reviewed the play, 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 heartbreaking 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,” Iowa State 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. Iowa State ran out the clock from there.
“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 with 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 get deflected just before Lazard caught it in the back of the end zone. Lazard had 142 receiving yards in his final college game and was named the bowl’s MVP.