Iowa State's bowl drought ended with a victory in the desert.
Sage Rosenfels, in his final game for Iowa State, completed 23 of 34 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns, both to Chris Anthony, as the Cyclones beat Pittsburgh 37-29 in the Insight.com Bowl on Thursday night.
Safety Doug Densmore was Mr. Everything in Iowa State's first ever bowl victory.
Among other things, he tipped away a 22-yard field goal try as the first half ended, threw the key block on JaMaine Billups' 72-yard punt return for a touchdown, and made a left-handed grab to down a punt on the Pittsburgh 1 late in the game.
Rowdy, red-clad Iowa State fans made up most of the near-capacity crowd of 41,813 cheering on the Cyclones in their first bowl appearance in 22 years.
Iowa State (9-3), 0-4 in bowl games entering the contest, had its first nine-win season since 1906.
When it was over, the Cyclones fans rushed the field and tore down the goal posts.
Antonio Bryant, the winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in the country, caught five passes for 155 yards, including touchdowns of 72 and 44 yards, for Pittsburgh (7-5).
John Turman was 20-for-36 for 347 yards for the Panthers. He threw for two touchdowns and was intercepted once. Pittsburgh's Kevan Barlow rushed for 114 yards in 22 carries.
The bowl game was moved from Tucson and was the first football contest played in Bank One Ballpark, also the scene of the first outdoor collegiate basketball game -- between the Tennessee and Arizona State women -- on Thursday night.
The Panthers rallied from a 27-7 halftime deficit to cut the lead to 34-29 on Barlow's 3-yard touchdown run with 9:49 to play.
The Cyclones drove to the Panthers' 44, then Carl Gomez lofted a punt toward the goal line. Densmore, lying on his stomach, reached out with his left hand like an infielder going for a grounder and stopped the ball at the one.
Pittsburgh couldn't move the ball, and Gomez kicked a 41-yard field goal to put Iowa State up 37-29 with 4:53 remaining. Turman tried to tie it with another long pass to Bryant, but the throw was short and Marc Timmons intercepted at the Cyclones 11 with 3:11 to go.
Rosenfels ran out the clock and threw the ball into the crowd of Iowa State fans as the game ended.
Rosenfels completed his last nine passes of the first half and directed to touchdowns on four consecutive first-half drives as Iowa State built its 20-point lead.
The Panthers scored twice in the third quarter to cut the lead to 27-20. Billups, a freshman in his first collegiate punt return after regular returner J.J. Moses was knocked woozy, followed Densmore's block to the sidelines and raced 72 yards for Iowa State's first punt return for a touchdown in eight years.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times