The Texas Tech football team defeated University of Texas at El Paso, 21-0, in the two schools’ 24th all-time matchup on Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
"Want to start off by saying that (redshirt freshman offensive lineman) Weston Wright and (sophomore offensive lineman) Casey Verhulst stepped up today in a big way, obviously getting those roles," sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman said. "I'm real proud of those two guys."
Starting the game, the Red Raiders’ defense forced UTEP to punt after senior Broderick Washington Jr. recorded a sack on fourth down. Tech’s defense pushed the Miners back six yards after UTEP’s first drive on offense.
"I feel like it really just set the tone, really and just put everybody in their mindset to dominate, really," Washington said regarding his early sack.
Following the strong performance by the defense, Tech’s offense moved the ball down the field in 2:17, ending with a five-yard rush up the middle for a touchdown by sophomore Ta’Zhawn Henry, giving Tech an early 7-0 lead. Henry recorded 19 rushing and 19 receiving yards on the 50-yard drive by the Red Raiders.
With five minutes left in the first quarter, the Red Raiders’ defense ran a Miner receiver out of bounds on third down but a roughing the passer penalty gave UTEP an automatic first down. Tech’s defense then pressured the Miners’ quarterback to cause an incompletion on third down, forcing UTEP to punt on fourth down.
While Tech’s defense held UTEP to 11 total offensive yards, the Red Raiders’ offense only recorded 58 offensive yards at the end of the first quarter, with Tech leading 7-0. As the quarter concluded, Bowman threw for 43 yards as Henry led the Red Raiders in rushing and receiving yards with 19 yards each. Leading Tech’s defense at the end of the quarter, senior Jordyn Brooks recorded four total tackles as Washington had the team’s only sack.
After forcing UTEP to punt at the start of the second quarter, the Red Raiders moved the ball down the field in 10 plays, resulting in a 13-yard receiving touchdown by junior T.J. Vasher, growing Tech’s lead 14-0. The Red Raiders’ offense covered 77 yards in 3:30 on the scoring drive for Bowman’s second passing touchdown of the night.
"They were manned up on the outside," Bowman said regarding his touchdown pass to Vasher. "We had a little stutter and go playoff of a zone read, and they were man coverage, that probably wasn't going to work. T.J. (Vasher) was just one-on-one, got a great release on the ball, got his hands on the ball as quickly as possible and fought to get in the end zone and stuck it over the pylon, or over the goal line."
The Red Raiders forced the Miners to punt and Bowman moved the ball down the field before throwing his first interception of the season. The interception put UTEP at its own 17-yard line but an overturned completion forced the Miners to punt.
Bowman made up for his interception with less than two minutes left in the first half as he found Dalton Rigdon, resulting in a 49-yard touchdown pass. With the touchdown, the Red Raiders led 21-0.
"You know, just where (Rigdon's) come from, from Perryton, Texas, not many people know where that is, walk-on," Bowman said. "Just kind of a guy that not many people believed in him, and he just kind of proved everybody wrong and so that's huge for him to kind of go out there and make that play and go score and show off his speed, so I'm happy for him.
At the end of the first half, Tech led UTEP 21-0 as Bowman threw for 184 yards (21-30) and two touchdowns. Rigdon led the Red Raiders with 64 receiving yards as Henry led the run game with 25 rushing yards. On the defensive end, Brooks led the team with eight total tackles (three solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. Washington remained the only player on both teams to record a sack.
The Red Raiders opened their first drive of the half and were stopped 37 yards away from the endzone on third down. Bowman and the offense went for it on fourth down and converted for a first down with a five-yard pass to sophomore KeSean Carter. Despite the fourth-down conversion, the Red Raiders did not score a touchdown as the drive ended with a 45-yard field goal by redshirt freshman Trey Wollf, growing Tech’s lead 24-0.
In the next offensive drive, the Red Raiders almost added six on the board as Rigdon outran his defender on third down, but Bowman overthrew the pass resulting in a fourth down. The defense then got the ball back for the offense as Brooks led the drive with two tackles.
The Red Raiders’ fast-paced offense covered 60 yards in 1:37 with six plays. The drive ended with a 30-yard pass to Vasher in the endzone. With Vasher’s second touchdown of the night, Tech led UTEP 31-0.
"On the second (touchdown pass to Vasher), we just wanted it -- these one-on-ones, if they are going to go one-on-one against T.J. (Vasher), we are going to attack it, he's 6-6, 210, I can't guard him, I don't know a lot of people that can," Bowman said. "So when he's streaking down the sideline -- that's one of the throws I did make, and he made a hell of a catch, too. So I think the combination of both of those things."
As the third quarter concluded, Tech led UTEP 31-0. Bowman threw for 249 yards as Vasher led the team with 78 receiving yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive end, Brooks led the team with 11 total tackles (six solo).
Starting the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders scored on their first drive. Senior Armand Shyne rushed towards the left side of the field for a seven-yard rushing touchdown to put Tech up, 38-0.
Following the touchdown, UTEP moved the ball up the field and converted a fourth down to keep the drive alive. In the next play after the conversion, freshman Tony Bradford Jr. and junior Brayden Stringer recorded a sack for a loss of seven yards. Two plays later, junior Thomas Leggett sacked UTEP’s quarterback for a loss of 14 yards to force a field goal. The Miners scored its first points of the game with a 45-yard field goal, cutting Tech’s lead 38-3.
As the Red Raiders defeated the Miners 38-3, Bowman finished with 260 passing yards and three touchdowns while throwing a single interception. Shyne and redshirt freshman Sarodorick Thompson led the run game with 45 rushing yards each. Vasher led the team with 78 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.
"Offensively, I thought Alan (Bowman), again, played another good game," head coach Matt Wells said. "You know, I don't think our running game was as sharp as it needs to be. We've got to go back and probably look at some stuff. It will be good to get some guys back healthy. We've played a lot of guys in the last two weeks and I'm looking forward to going on the road next week at Arizona."
Tech’s defense held the Miners to 131 yards of total offense as Brooks recorded 11 total tackles for the second time this season. Brooks also led the team with six solo tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. Washington and Leggett led the defense with a sack a piece as Stringer and Bradford recorded 0.5 sack.
"Happy with our performance," Wells said. "We celebrate all wins, but it was a really, really good night. The whole night belonged to our defense."
The Red Raiders will have their first road test of the season as they travel to play Arizona at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.