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Nothing spoils a brief celebration like yellow penalty flags.

Just ask Iowa safety Jordan Lomax, who was called for targeting during a pivotal fourth quarter drive Saturday that ended with an Iowa State touchdown.

"I was surprised, because it came out so late," Lomax said of the flag. "When I looked back, there was no flag."

With Iowa State facing second-and-8 from its own 27-yard line, quarterback Sam Richardson threw a pass to receiver Jarvis West.

Lomax was speeding toward the scene, and he arrived just as the ball was caroming off West's fingers. There was a collision.

"I was just playing football, trying to make a play on the ball," Lomax said. "I didn't try to hit him. I kind of tried to protect myself."

West remained on the ground until being helped up. Lomax was ejected after a video review. And the Cyclones eventually ended up with a first down at their own 42-yard line.

"It was upsetting, because I didn't think it was a fair call," Hawkeye defensive tackle Carl Davis said. "The only thing that matters is, they get yardage when penalties like that happen."

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Rick Brown says the Hawkeyes didn't seize the opportunities they had in a 20-17 loss to Iowa State. He and Andrew Logue sized up Iowa's first loss this year.

The rule, as written: "No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder. When in question, it is a foul."

For Lomax, it was dilemma every defensive back faces at least once: How do you remain aggressive while adapting to rules intended to make the game safer?

"It's very hard, because it's like a split decision," Lomax said. "And you're just trying to go out there and play football.

"What hurts most is not being able to be out there with my teammates, finishing the game with them."

Six plays later, Richardson threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to DeVondrick Nealy, putting Iowa State ahead 17-14 with 7:33 remaining.

What might get lost in this discussion is, it's Lomax who makes sure the Hawkeyes' secondary is in the correct alignment.

"It kind of put the defense in a bad spot," he said. "It gave Iowa State more momentum."

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