Iowa State's opening drive netted one first down, but didn't do much in the way of building momentum. Bret Meyer misfired on three of his four passes, and was dropped for a one-yard loss trying to scramble on a 3rd-and-4 play. That brought out Troy Blankenship for a punt.
Miami's offense started out with a spark from a pair of first downs. Josh Betts hit Korey Kirkpatrick for 10 yards and a first down on 2nd-and-5, then on the following play Luke Clemons carried for 11 more and another fresh set of downs. However, the drive would stall out four plays later when Betts' pass on 4th-and-9 sailed out of bounds.
After both offenses went three-and-out, ISU finally got it going midway through the quarter. Meyer hit on both of his pass attempts, finding Jon Davis for 10 yards and Todd Blythe for 17 more. The connection to Blythe set the Cyclones up 1st-and-goal at the Redhawk six. Two Stevie Hicks carries later, ISU took a 7-0 lead with 4:04 remaining in the quarter.
The Cyclone defense fed off of the momentum on the ensuing drive. After Bets hit Ryne Robinson for 14 yards on the opening play, Shawn Moorehead and Tyson Smith dropped the quarterback for losses on consecutive plays. Betts lofted an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-22 to bring out Mike Wafzig to punt.
Advantage: Iowa State.
ISU put together one of the most impressive of the season early in the quarter, but it would only end up netting three points instead of seven. Meyer led the unit on a 16-play drive to the Redhawk five-yard line, before turning it over to Bret Culbertson for a 23-yard field goal attempt. The freshman's kick gave the Cyclones a 10-0 lead with 10:55 remaining in the half.
Meyer did most of the work on the drive, rushing five times for 21 yards and adding one 11-yard strike to Ben Barkema. Hicks also looked very sharp throughout the drive, rushing for 34 yards on five carries.
Miami of Ohio looked to put together its first scoring drive of the game late in the half, when Betts started to catch fire. The first-year starter completed passes of 11 yards to R.J. Corbin and 29 to Robinson. That gave the Redhawks a fresh set of downs inside Cyclone territory. ISU linebacker Tim Dobbins gave Miami another gift – a 1st-and-10 at the 23-yard line – on a personal foul penalty with 31 seconds left in the half. After a delay of game penalty on the Redhawks, Betts connected with Clemons for a 28-yard touchdown. With the extra point Miami cut the deficit to 10-7 at the 25-second mark.
Advantage: Iowa State.
Miami of Ohio might have taken over momentum to start the second half, but the Cyclones' defensive mistakes had plenty to do with it. ISU committed three penalties on the drive that resulted in fresh sets of downs for the Redhawks.
The first came on a 3rd-and-9 pass interference call on DeAndre Jackson. Then, when it looked like ISU had forced a punt on 4th-and-10, Jamarr Buchanan committed a defensive holding call before the kick. Several plays later, on 2nd-and-13, Ellis Hobbs committed a pass interference penalty that gave Miami 1st-and-goal at the seven. Hobbs' mistake came three plays after he gave up a 29-yard pass play from Betts to Corbin.
The Redhawks capped off a 15-play scoring drive with a two-yard touchdown run from Mike Smith. It gave them a 13-10 lead with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter. The extra point was blocked.
ISU's offensive woes continued to compound later in the quarter. Meyer dropped back on a 3rd-and-9 play – with plenty of time against a three-man rush – and lofted a perfect pass deep over the middle to Davis. The sophomore receiver had it in his hands for a split-second, but dropped what would have been a sure touchdown. That brought out Blankenship for another punt.
Advantage: Miami (Ohio).
ISU's offense finally got going late in the third and early in the fourth, thanks to more production from the run game. Hicks rushed twice for 19 yards to end the third quarter, then turned it over to Meyer who carried three consecutive times for 38 yards. Meyer also completed a timely 3rd-and-6 pass to Todd Miller for 13 yards. Ryan Kock capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge, making it 17-13 ISU with 13:02 remaining.
The special teams did its job late in the fourth quarter after Miami had forced the Cyclones to punt. Blankenship's attempt was downed at the Miami one-yard line with under five minutes to go.
The Redhawks picked up a pair of first downs to gain some room to work with. Smith gained eight yards on 2nd-and-3 from the 8, then Betts connected with Robinson for 11 on a 2nd-and-10. However, the Cyclone defense came up with what could have been the play of the game when Moorehead and Smith teamed up to sack Betts. That brought up 3rd-and-19. After another incomplete pass from Betts, the punting unit was brought out with just over three minutes to play.
ISU took possession at its own 15-yard line after an impressive punt by Wafzig. Hicks made up for a lot of that yardage when he rushed for 41 yards on 2nd-and-10. He added another four-yard gain that brought the Cyclones' team tally to 299 yards on 55 rushes. But ISU's drive would stall at the Redhawk 34-yard line after a failed quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1.
Miami's offense picked up a first down on Betts' 12-yard strike to Michael Larkin. But on the following play, Hobbs stepped in front of Betts' pass, picked it off, and returned it to the Redhawk 11-yard line. That sealed ISU's second bowl victory in school history.
Advantage: Iowa State.