The Texas Tech football team defeated Houston Baptist 35-33 in Lubbock to begin the season 1-0 on Saturday evening.
In accordance with the Big 12 conference’s newly instated “nine-plus-one” policy, Houston Baptist was Tech’s only non-conference opponent on the ten-game schedule which they hosted at Jones AT&T Stadium. Per announcement, there were 11,157 fans in attendance at the game.
The Red Raiders were missing Colin Schooler, Xavier White, DeMarcus Fields, McLane Mannix, Zach Adams, Gilbert Ibeneme, Tyree Wilson, Myles Price, Donovan Smith and JJ Sparkman against the Huskies.
The Red Raiders struggled containing the Huskies’ passing game. Houston Baptist tallied 572 passing yards including three touchdown receptions that were 65 yards or more. The Huskies also had three receivers with over 100 receiving yards in Jerreth Sterns, Ben Ratzlaff and Josh Sterns.
“We got exposed in the secondary at times,” Wells said. “We got beat on some coverage there in the second quarter and Zappe took advantage of it.”
Tech introduced an offense that had a successful run game behind Thompson. The Red Raiders anchored down on their rushing attack with 194 total rushing yards. Thompson had 118 of those yards on 22 carries to go along with 2 touchdowns.
Tech quarterback Alan Bowman missed some key throws but still fits in his role as a starting quarterback. Bowman finished the game 38-52 with 430 yards of offense. He also had two touchdowns and one interception.
“We had two seam balls that were close, but Alan (Bowman) just missed the throws,” Wells said. "But I liked his demeanor throughout the game. He's mature."
Bowman also spoke to the uncharacteristic passes he threw early.
"The one seam ball to Kesean I got caught on...Those are mistakes I can't make as a quarterback," Bowman said. "Those are throws that I can make easily, that I know I can make easily, I make those throws routinely,"
The Red Raiders did, however, have six tackles for loss that equaled 24 yards of negative yardage against the Huskies. Three of those were sacks from Hutchings, Merriweather, Howard, Blidi and McCann who all assisted on taking the quarterback down.
Key drive summaries:
The 96th season of Red Raider football began with Texas Tech on the receiving end of the coin toss, which resulted in the Tech offense taking the field to start the game.
The opening formation for Tech, an old-school T (Texas T), according to Wells, was taken in honor of Tommy McVay.
“It was an idea that I gave to coach Yost,” Wells said. “We wanted a chance to honor Tommy, Mr. Texas Tech football...It was a small thing to honor Tommy, but a big deal to Texas Tech football,”
SaRodorick Thompson began the drive with a first down run followed by a short reception. Tech remained in a hurry-up offensive scheme and chopped down the field on a five play, 75-yard possession which resulted in a touchdown pass to Erik Ezukanma. The entire possession lasted one minute and 38 seconds for Tech’s first scoring drive of the season backed by 61 passing yards from Bowman on 4-4 attempts.
The Red Raiders then took to the defensive side of the ball where they stopped a 42-yard drive in their own red zone to force a Houston Baptist field goal. At the 10-minute mark of the first quarter, the Red Raiders led 7-3.
After a three-play possession after regaining the ball, Bowman threw an interception, which allowed Houston Baptist to regain possession at the 40-yard line. The Red Raider defense then forced a three-and-out which resulted in the Huskies punting the ball.
Tech capitalized on a possession that started inside their own five-yard line. Bowman completed three passes on the drive for 46 yards, and the duo of Thompson and Tahj Brooks combined for 44 rushing yards. Thompson ended the possession on a five-yard rush which resulted in a Tech touchdown.
The Red Raiders earned 95 yards on an 11-play drive over the span of four minutes and eighteen seconds to gain a 14-3 advantage over the Huskies.
Houston Baptist retained possession and drove into the red zone to top off a 53-yard drive. While on the 6-yard line, Zech McPhearson intercepted a pass by Houston Baptist quarterback Bailey Zappe to give the Red Raiders possession of the ball.
Tech was then forced to punt after a three-minute drive to give the Huskies possession on their own 12-yard line.
After both teams began solidifying their defenses, a quick offensive start by both the Huskies and the Red Raiders began to cool off into the second quarter.
Tech came out of the dry spell first and answered with an eight-play, 42-yaard drive emphasized by a Tahj Brooks touchdown, the Red Raiders’ third of the evening, to give them a 21-3 advantage halfway through the second quarter.
Immediately following Tech’s drive, the Huskies replied with a scoring drive of their own with the help of a 65-yard reception from Houston Baptist receiver DJ Dormeus to bring the score to 21-10.
After a short possession by the Red Raiders, the Huskies began another forceful drive down the field. Throughout the drive, Tech was unable to get pressure on Zappe, which resulted in numerous big receptions to support the drive.
The Huskies drove the distance of the field on a 71-yard drive which was stopped at the goal-line on a 4th & 1 tackle by Zech McPhearson to give the Red Raiders possession again. The Red Raiders ended the half within their own 20-yard line.
At the half, the Red Raiders led 21-10 over Houston Baptist.
The Huskies began the third quarter with possession of the ball, and what started as a promising drive ended with a 3rd down stop by Tech. However, one possession later the Huskies capitalized on a 17-yard drive with a 44-yard field goal by Houston Baptist kicker, Gino Garcia.
Tech tried to reply, but a 42-yard drive ended short after Bowman overthrew a wide-open Kesean Carter to stop the Red Raiders in their tracks.
Halfway through the third quarter, the Huskies completed another deep-ball for 65 yards to bring the score within one-point of Tech. This would be the second 65-plus yard touchdown reception for the Huskies on the night.
The Red Raiders immediately responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive which was capped off by Thompson’s second rushing touchdown of the evening to increase the Red Raiders’ lead 28-20. Bowman also had 64 passing yards on the drive.
After forcing a punt, Tech scored on its second-straight drive after a reception by Kesean Carter that gave him six receptions for 86 yards on the night to that point.
Immediately after the score by Tech, the Huskies threw a 75-yard pass to receiver Josh Sterns to cut the lead 35-27 in favor of Tech. The passing touchdown was quarterback Zappe’s third of the evening.
After a 14-play drive, the Red Raiders came up short on a 4th-and-goal QB sneak to earn a first down. The Huskies retained possession on the four-yard line to start their drive.
In Seven plays for 96 yards, Houston Baptist brought the game within two points after a failed two-point conversion.
Tech got the ball back with 3:23 left on the game clock with a 35-33 advantage. After a string of successful first downs, the Red Raiders held on to take a victory over Houston Baptist.
Up next for the Red Raiders:
The Red Raiders will continue their season against Texas as they will welcome the Longhorns to Jones AT&T Stadium for the first conference matchup of the season set for 2:30 p.m., Sept. 26.