AMES | It's beginning to sound like a broken record for Iowa State football fans.
Cyclone backers saw their favorite team roll to a season-best 564 total yards Saturday and hold a 10-point second-half lead.
But just like against Kansas State, and just like against Texas, Iowa State saw another opportunity for victory slip through its hands.
Pat Mahomes threw four touchdown passes, including three in the second half, as Texas Tech (4-7) rallied from a 10-point deficit to pull out a 34-31 victory over the Cyclones (2-8) at Jack Trice Stadium.
"It was a game that we fell behind early and then clawed our way back into it," ISU head coach Paul Rhoads said. "At this point, to be able to do that was pleasing and there was good fight in our football team."
But after erasing an early 14-0 deficit and rolling to a 24-14 lead, the Cyclones gave up several untimely big plays to the Red Raiders in the second half.
"Came out in the second half, got ourselves a lead and opportunity a couple times in the second half to take control and not allow a team to respond, and again we didn't do that," added Rhoads. "We let them respond. We had a chance to close the door and secure a lead and keep a lead, and we did not do that.
"Way too many big plays given up in this football game to have an opportunity to win it in the end."
Up 24-14 and poised to deliver a knockout punch with just under nine minutes left in the third quarter, ISU saw Texas Tech execute a perfect fake punt on a fourth-and-3 from the Red Raiders' 43 as Kenny Williams took a direct snap and rumbled 44 yards to the Cyclone 13. On the next play, Mahomes hit Devin Lauderdale for a touchdown and a new lease on life for Texas Tech.
"We've been practicing that play for months waiting to run it," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "I think Kenny should have scored, but it was a good play, though. It brought a lot of energy to the sideline.
"When you are on the road, you have to bring your own energy."
Steady Cole Netten missed a pair of field goals, one from 41 in the first half and another from 42 in the fourth quarter, and ISU gave up scoring plays of 72, 82 and 44 yards as the Red Raiders rolled to 600 total yards of offense.
Mahomes, starting in place of injured Davis Webb, passed for 328 yards, and DeAndre Washington rushed for 186 for Texas Tech.
After the Lauderdale touchdown, the game and lead went back-and-forth over the final 23 minutes.
ISU drove into Texas Tech territory after the Lauderdale score, but back-to-back sacks of Sam Richardson stalled the drive and the Cyclones were forced to punt. After a short Washington run, Lauderdale beat Kamari Cotton-Moya deep for an 82-yard score to put the Red Raiders in front, 27-24.
Iowa State had a response as a Cory Morrissey hit caused a Mahomes' fumble and Dale Pierson fell on it at the Cyclone 48. On ISU's first play, DeVondrick Nealy ripped off a season-best 49-yard run to the Red Raider 2, and Aaron Wimberly scored on the next play to make it 31-27 with 13:44 to go.
The Cyclones quickly got the ball back, but with another chance to close the door or extend their lead, Netten missed wide left from 42 yards with 5:40 left.
"I hit it solid and I was surprised when it went left," said Netten.
"He hit two balls poorly and uncharacteristic of Cole," Rhoads added.
With the door left open, Texas Tech pounced quickly. On a first-and-10 from ISU's 44, Mahomes hit Williams out of the backfield with a swing pass and nobody touched him as he galloped into the end zone for a 34-31 lead with 4:07 to go.
The Cyclones then drove inside the Red Raider 40, but on a fourth-and-7, Richardson scrambled out of pressure, only to be stopped two yards short of a first down.
"We had a lot of opportunities to finish the game," said ISU cornerback Nigel Tribune, who halted one Red Raider drive with an interception in the end zone. "But one of the things we've struggled with is finishing games."
Mahomes converted a third-and-5 with a 10-yard sweep to help Texas Tech run out the remaining 2:38 and secure the win.
Richardson, after missing the Kansas loss with a right shoulder injury , passed for 304 yards and a pair of scores. He also rushed for two touchdowns.
Wimberly rushed for 102 yards and two scores, while Tad Ecby had two catches for 100 yards, both setting up ISU scores.
"Tougher," responded Tribune if this was the toughest loss of the season. "All of them are pretty tough."