AMES, Iowa — Paul Rhoads didn't even try to hide his emotions.
Minutes after his team lost a 31-30 heartbreaker to Texas at Jack Trice Stadium Thursday, the Iowa State coach let the world know what he thought of a controversial no-call in the final minute.
Two plays prior to Case McCoy's game-winning 1-yard sneak with 51 seconds left, the Cyclone defense held Johnathan Gray up a yard short of the goal line on first-and-goal from the 2.
While the Longhorn running back kept fighting toward the end zone, Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George ripped the ball away from him and started running the other way.
Gray was ruled down at the 1, no fumble. An official review of the play confirmed the call on the field.
Texas (3-2) scored two snaps later to escape with a one-point win to move to 2-0 in the Big 12.
Rhoads was livid. His voiced boomed through the media room.
“I got the privilege as the head football coach of this football program to face my players, win or lose, and look them in the eye,” he said, “and feel how proud I am of the work they put forth and the effort they gave tonight. And to make a play on the 1-yard line with their backs against the wall, clear to everybody, and have it taken away from them.
“That's hard to express. You don't just put an arm around a guy and tell him it's OK when that happens to him. So proud of the effort my kids gave to win this football game tonight.”
The official records will show that Iowa State didn't win. It lost for the 10th time in 11 meetings with the Longhorns and dropped its Big 12 Conference opener for the 11th consecutive year.
Even harder for the Cyclones to stomach, they had a chance to put this one away before the final drive.
Leading 27-24 late in the fourth quarter, Iowa State faced a second-and-short at the Longhorn 4. After a 2-yard loss and an incomplete pass, it settled for a field goal to go up 30-24 with 3:40 to play.
In doing so, ISU left the door open for a Texas comeback. Quarterback Sam Richardson, who threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, said Iowa State can put plenty of blame on itself.
“At the end of the day, we didn't score a touchdown there late,” he said. “We'll point the finger at ourselves. You can put it on us that we didn't score more points to win the game.”
The Cyclones rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to take a 13-10 lead on Cole Netten's first field goal with 33 seconds left in the first half. John Harris then hauled in a 44-yard Hail Mary from McCoy in the end zone as time expired in the second quarter to put Texas up 17-13 at the intermission.
Richardson connected with Quenton Bundrage midway through the third on a short pass over the middle that Bundrage took 97 yards — the longest pass play in Iowa State history — to give the Cyclones a 20-17 advantage. Joe Bergeron put Texas back in front with 6-yard scoring run two minutes later.
Aaron Wimberly answered with a tough 20-yard TD run early in the fourth to give ISU a 27-24 lead. The former Iowa Western standout ran for 117 yards on 29 carries and caught a first-half touchdown pass.
Netten's final field goal made it a six-point game, which wasn't enough in the end. Two interference penalties and a personal foul on the defense helped McCoy drive the Longhorns to the Cyclone 2.
George said he knows what happened next on the run by Gray.
“He was trying to score a touchdown,” he said. “As a defender, you don't stop until you hear the whistle. The whistle never blew. The whistle never blew until I had the ball in my hand and I was 30 yards downfield.”
Texas coach Mack Brown praised his team for its final drive.
“I'm really proud of our team,” he said. “One of the trademarks of this team has been comeback wins, especially in games like this.”
Iowa State outgained the Longhorns, who got 244 passing yards from McCoy, by 100 yards. And it converted on 7 of 11 third downs in the first half, including five on one 92-yard scoring drive.
None of it mattered. The Cyclones (1-3) will go on the road next week with a bad taste in their mouths.
“We can't let it linger,” George said. “If you think the Texas Tech Red Raiders care about Iowa State getting a game stolen from them, they really don't.”