Tulsa overcomes early deficit, beats Iowa State in Liberty Bowl

By Stephen Koenigsfeld

Tulsa overcomes early deficit, beats Iowa State in Liberty Bowl

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Tulsa Golden Hurricane took the lead and never looked back in their 31-17 victory against the Cyclones in the 2012 Liberty Bowl.

Iowa State took no time at all putting the first points on the board. A 26-yard connection from Sam Richardson to Josh Lenz set up a 33-yard field goal to put the Cyclones in the lead early, 3-0.

After respective three-and-outs by Tulsa and Iowa State, Jeremy Reeves took an interception back 31 yards for a touchdown, putting Iowa State ahead 10-0.

On the ensuing drive, Tulsa went 75 yards to put its first points on the board with a 2-yard rush by Alex Singleton.

Wasting no time, Richardson connected with Ernst Brun on a 69-yard strike on only the second play of the drive, putting Iowa State ahead 17-7.

The 69-yard touchdown was the longest of Brun’s career as well as the seventh-longest in Liberty Bowl history.

The Cyclones struggled slightly for the remainder of the first quarter, allowing Richardson to be sacked twice in the one set of downs.

An ISU punt from its own end zone would set the Golden Hurricane up for a quarterback keeper by Cody Green on the first play of the second quarter. Tulsa got within striking distance of the Cyclones, down 17-14.

Struggles continued for the Cyclones through the second quarter. The defense allowed Singleton his second touchdown of the afternoon, another 2-yard rush giving Tulsa their first lead of the game 21-17.

Neither team got within scoring distance until about four minutes left in the half when Iowa State kicker Edwin Arceo missed a 34-yard field goal wide right.

That would do it for the first half of the 2012 Liberty Bowl. Richardson finished the half 8-of-16 with 121 yards and one touchdown.

After deciding to receive after the half, the Golden Hurricane took over from their own 8-yard line after a block in the back penalty.

Unable to do anything with the ball, Tulsa punted the ball away. The Cyclones took over for only a short time.

Richardson threw an interception on the second play of the drive, giving Tulsa the ball back at their own 16-yard line.

Each team had a respective punt to another. It wasn’t until about six minutes were left in the third quarter when the game became live again.

Tulsa’s Trey Watts broke a 48-yard run to set the Golden Hurricane up deep within Cyclone territory. After a couple of penalties that kept the drive alive, Singleton bowled his way in for his third touchdown of the game, putting Tulsa up 28-17.

The Iowa State offense was unable to get anything going on offense in the third quarter and being kept out of the end zone for the entire third quarter.

The trend continued for the Cyclones as they struggled on both sides of the ball.

Holding the Golden Hurricane to a field goal in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones’ deficit grew to 31-17.

A quarterback change was the only breath of fresh air the Cyclones saw in the fourth quarter, as quarterback Steele Jantz entered the game. A series of holding calls and negative plays forced the Cyclones to put again.

The ISU defense made a hold on third down, forcing Tulsa to give the ball back to the Cyclones with five minutes left in the game.

With desperation in the air, the Cyclones were trying to put a drive together when Richardson threw his second interception of the game.

From there, the Golden Hurricane ran the rest of the time off the clock, and the rest was history.

Post-game chatter

Here’s what coach Rhoads and some players had to say after the game:

“[Richardson] was sick. A gritty performance by the young man who was trowing up all night and a flu bug that came on late after dinner last night. It had nothing to do with the hit he took.” – Paul Rhoads on a dazed Sam Richardson

“It didn’t end how I wanted it to. I am just happy I had the opportunity to play here for four years and make an impact as a starter for three years. We had 25,000 plus fans and we wanted a win for them, just for making the trip. But things don’t always work out how you want them to.” – A.J. Klein on his final game as a Cyclone.

“We’re a very unified group, we do things together; a very close-fit group. And we’ve had a great month of December because of that. There’s no question we weren’t ready mentally or physically, we just got out played.” – Rhoads on his team exiting the 2012 season.

“It hurt to lose that game because of all the fans here and all the support they showed us throughout the whole week.” – Ernst Brun Jr., on the support of traveling fans.

Read more here: http://www.iowastatedaily.com/sports/football/article_351b7c42-539b-11e2-8e76-0019bb2963f4.html
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