Longhorns History: Shootout in Ames


The Longhorns look to keep the winning streak going in Ames against an Iowa State team that has played Texas tough.

Halloween night will mark the Texas Longhorns’ sixth trip to Ames, Iowa to face off with the Iowa State Cyclones.  The Longhorns have never lost in Ames.  Although the Cyclones aren’t one of Texas’ main rivals, many of their games their have been memorable in one way or another.

A lot of talk this week has been about the last Longhorns’ trip to Ames in 2013.  That game, played on a Thursday night, was a strange one.  It included a successful Hail Mary, a 97 yard touchdown pass, several lead changes and a controversial ending before Texas escaped with a 31-30 victory.  The 2011 game is best remembered as the coming out party of David Ash, who threw two long touchdown passes, including one off of a trick play, in a 37-14 win.  In 2007, it was another quarterback, Colt McCoy, who took center stage.  McCoy accounted for five total touchdowns in a 56-3 win that was the Cyclones’ worst loss in a decade.

All of these games pale in comparison to the Longhorns first trip to Ames.  On that cloudy day in 1999, Texas found themselves locked in a wild shootout with a typically feisty Iowa State team looking to make a name for themselves.

It didn’t start out as a shootout, however.  Both teams came out sluggish for the 11:30 kickoff.  They combined for 4 three-and-outs in the first five possessions before Texas finally got their offense going late in the first quarter.  That was when Major Applewhite, a notorious slow starter, finally got hot.  Applewhite hit on three of four passes on the drive and Chris Robertson finished it off with a one yard run to make the score 7-0 Texas.

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With the first shot fired, Iowa State woke up in a hurry.  Sage Rosenfels hooked up with running back Ennis Haywood for a 34 yard gain to get the Cyclones their first fresh set of downs in the game.  Two Texas penalties and some hard running by Haywood followed and the score was tied 7-7.

The defenses were still in control at this point though an the game turned into a battle of field position.  Texas found themselves penned deep in their own territory. A poor punt by Ryan Long gave Iowa State the ball at the Longhorn 42.  One play later, Rosenfels put the Cyclones on top with a 42 yard pass to Darren Davis.

The Cyclones had hit Texas right in the mouth and it woke up what had been a tepid game.  Applewhite led the Horns to a field goal, only to see Rosenfels answer with a 59 yard touchdown strike to put the Cyclones up 20-10 82 seconds later.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Applewhite tossed his own long touchdown, 41 yards to Montrell Flowers, taking Texas 75 yards in a mere 41 seconds.  After scoring only 14 points in the first twenty one minutes of play, the Cylones and Horns put up 20 points in the next seven minutes.  At the half, the 4-3 Cyclones led 6-2 Texas by three.

Former quarterbacks Major Applewhite and David Ash have both figured prominently in past Texas-Iowa State games. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Things were just starting to get interesting.  Hodges Mitchell carried five times for 41 yards on the Horns’ opening drive of the second half.  Then Robertson, doing his best Cody Johnson impression, pounded in for another one yard touchdown to push Texas back in front.

Rosenfels fired right back for Iowa State.  Rosenfels kept lighting up the Texas secondary and Darren Davis finished the drive off with a five yard run and it was Iowa State 27-24.

Applewhite’s turn.  A 38 yard toss to Mitchell set the Horns up deep in Cyclone territory before he found Flowers again, this time from 4 yards out to put Texas back up by four.  Then lightning struck.  Iowa State kick returner J.J. Moses fumbled the ensuing kickoff.  Former quarterback turned special teams monster Beau Trahan scooped it up and ran it to give Texas some breathing room at 38-27 as the third quarter ended.

Texas appeared to put their foot on Iowa State’s throat with a 10 play, 49 yard drive on their first possession of the fourth quarter.  A Kris Stockton field goal made it a two touchdown game with just over nine minutes left to play.

Then Moses got a shot at redemption, returning Stockton’s kickoff 80 yards to the Texas twenty and getting the crowd back into the game.  Haywood went 7 yards for his second touchdown of the game to close a quick, two play drive.

The momentum had turned.  ISU stuffed Texas on their next drive, forcing a Longhorn punt.  Iowa State took over with 5:50 to go, 66 yards from the tying touchdowns.  Three Davis runs and a pass interference penalty moved the Cyclones to the Texas 35.  Rosenfels then put Iowa State on the goalline with a 34 yard pass.  Davis tied in on the next play.

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Texas Longhorns

Applewhite trotted back onto the field with 3:12 remaining.  Applewhite was not the most gifted quarterback to wear burnt orange, but he might be one of the most clutch.  On the first play of the drive, Applewhite hit Ryan Nunez, who took the ball to the Iowa State 34 yard line, sucking the air out of Jack Trice Stadium.  From there it was the Hodges Mitchell show.  Mitchell carried on the next seven plays, gaining 33 yards.  Kris Stockton then sent ’em home crying, booting an 18 yard field goal on the last play to finally give Texas a hard fought 44-41 win.

Iowa State never recovered from the heartbreak of their near miss.  The Cyclones lost their last three games to drop to 4-7.  Texas won their next two to secure the Big XII South title, but the season took a turn for the worst and the Longhorns finished the year with a three game losing streak to finish 9-5

The game was one of the most entertaining games of the early Mack Brown era, featuring the late 90s Longhorns in all of their inconsistent glory.  Applewhite threw for 345 yards on 30-of-40 passing with two touchdowns, with Kwame Cavil catching eleven of those passes for 106 yards.  Mitchell pounded out 172 yards on the ground while dropping a Swoopes on the tired Cyclone defense on the game winning drive.  Meanwhile, the Texas defense made Rosenfels look like John Elway.  Sage threw for just short of 300 yards on only eleven completions while the two headed beast that was Darren Davis and Ennis Haywood combined for 101 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

The Longhorns must have learned their lesson about taking Iowa State lightly.  The Texas would win the next four matchups with the Cyclones by double digits, a streak that ended with the disasterous 28-21 loss in 2010, still the only Iowa State victory in the series.

The Longhorns that take the field Saturday night are a long way removed from that 99 team, but you can bet that the Cyclones will have their attention.  The last two games between these schools have been decided by a mere four points.  Iowa State may not be one of the Longhorns’ traditional rivals, but memorable things often happen when the Cyclones and Horns hook up.

So don’t be too surprised if there are some big fireworks Saturday night.