The Texas Tech football team defeated Montana State, 45-10, to secure the Red Raiders' first win under head coach Matt Wells on Saturday at the Jones AT&T Stadium.
"It's a privilege to coach here, it's not my right. It's very humbling. Opportunity Kirby (Hocutt) gave me. And our staff. It's not about me, it's our staff," Wells said. "But you just always reflect. Everybody has a why, why you do stuff. I think it's important for our players to understand that. It's important for our coaches to understand that. And it's just I was probably just reflecting on all that. It's pretty much a game-day deal for me and you are trying to get in the right mindset. But just thankful, very humbled, very appreciative of everything that's been given to you."
Tech started the game on defense, forcing a three-and-out after senior defensive lineman recorded a tackle for loss on third-and-one. The Red Raiders’ gained 85 total yards in 11 plays, resulting in a touchdown to give Tech a 7-0 lead with 9:26 left in the first quarter. The five-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Alan Bowman to junior McLane Mannix ended the Red Raiders’ first offensive drive under new head coach Matt Wells.
The Red Raiders’ defense stopped Montana State from getting a first down in its second drive of the game, forcing another punt. Bowman led Tech’s offense with multiple short passes to move the Red raiders down the field, ending with an 11-yard touchdown run up the middle by redshirt freshman Sarodorick Thompson, growing Tech’s lead 14-0 with 4:04 left in the first quarter.
After two-successful drives, Tech was forced to punt for its first time of the game with one minute left in the first quarter after two straight incompletions.
With the first quarter concluding, the Red Raiders lead Montana State, 14-0. Bowman led Tech’s offense with 139 passing yards, completing 14 of his 18 passes. Sophomore Dalton Rigdon was the hot receiver of the quarter as he recorded 58 receiving yards (11.6 yards per catch). Sophomore Ta’zhawn Henry recorded 16 yards, leading the running backs as the Red Raiders’ defense held Montana State to just 18 yards in the first quarter of play.
Tech forced a punt in the first minutes of the second quarter and the Red Raiders moved their way down the field. Bowman threw to sophomore Xavier White for a 35-yard gain but the receiver from Lubbock fumbled and Montana State recovered the loose ball in the endzone for a touchback.
As Montana State’s offense struggled to record a single first down against Tech’s defense, the Bobcats snapped the streak of punts with a seven-yard rush on third down. Following their first first-down of the game, the Bobcats found success in their passing game as Casey Bauman completed a 35-yard pass to Kevin Kassis. With the endzone in reach, Bauman followed with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Coy Steel to put the first points up on the board for Montana State, 14-7.
In Tech’s following drive, Bowman completed a six-yard pass to junior T.J. Vasher. Senior running back Armand Shyne then found a hole in Montana State’s defense on the second play of the drive, rushing for a 69-yard touchdown, giving Tech a two-touchdown lead, 21-7.
"That gave us momentum because I think it was an answer. They scored and we answered right back. And teams, good teams got to play off each other," Wells said. "There's going to be times where we struggle on offense that our defense has to really pick us up or our kicking game does. And then there may be taimes that we're having trouble stopping somebody and that we're going to have to match serve, serve after serve or touchdown after touchdown. And there's going to be times and that may be we're struggling a little bit and our fans are going to have to pull us through until we get to halftime to make some adjustments. That's kind of that we, us, and our mentality. And so I think it absolutely answered their call."
The Red Raiders added to their lead with under a minute left on the clock as Thompson recorded his second touchdown of the game. Thompson made his way through Montana State’s defensive line for a three-yard rushing touchdown, giving Tech a 28-7 lead.
With the conclusion of the first half, Tech led Montana State 28-7 as Bowman threw for 247 yards, completing 24 of his 31 passes. Shyne led the running backs with 84 total yards (16.8-yard average) after his 69-yard rush for a touchdown in the second quarter. Rigdon still led the receivers with 58 yards. Montana State found more success in the second quarter, finishing the half with 119 total yards.
"Obviously (Shyne) coming from Utah, first game, new atmosphere, kind of figuring it all out," Bowman said regarding Shyne's performance. "But then again, obviously, I'm back there carrying out fakes and those big boys up front are opening holes and he's hitting them hard, he's attacking it. But, yeah, Armand, when he gets in space, running out, showed some speed and I think he's seeing it really well and the O line are blocking really well right now."
The Red Raiders opened the second half, making their way down the field but two false starts put Tech in a third-and-10 situation. Bowman overthrew his pass to Vasher in the endzone, resulting in a fourth down. Despite the lost yards, Tech still added points on the boards as redshirt freshman Trey Wolff nailed a 30-yard field goal to grow the Red Raiders’ lead, 31-7.
Following the field goal, Tech’s defense prevented Montana State from adding points on the board as the Bobcats tried to convert on fourth down. Brooks recorded two tackles on the drive with his second tackle preventing Montana State from gaining any yardage on a fourth-and-one attempt.
As Tech and Montana State entered the fourth quarter, Brooks led the Red Raiders’ defense with 11 total tackles. Bowman led the offense with 321 passing yards as Shyne led the Red Raiders with 117 rushing yards. Rigdon led the receivers with 62 receiving yards.
Tech’s defense forced Montana State to attempt a 46-yard field goal, which the Bobcats missed. Following the missed field goal, Bowman completed a pass to White. White broke off a tackle and ran to the endzone for a 45-yard touchdown, giving Tech a 38-7 lead.
"It's tough, you're going to make mistakes in a game, I know obviously he probably wants that one back, but I was happy for him to kind of get in the end zone and kind of find it pretty much on the same play," Bowman said as he referred to White's fumble in the second quarter.
The Red Raiders added another touchdown to end a 15-play, 85-yard drive with a seven-yard rush from Bowman. With the quarterback’s rushing touchdown, Tech grew its lead 45-10 with five minutes left of play.
"Yeah, it's always kind of a read down there, but the defense normally kind of has a quarterback player and all game he was kind of more and more kind of biting down and biting down and then I just kind of took it and no one was there and ran a little too far, probably could have walked in way sooner, but got in," Bowman said.
As the Red Raiders had a 35-point lead and the clock winded down, Tech secured its first win of the Wells era with a 45-10 win against Montana State.
Bowman led Tech’s offense with 436 passing yards, completing 40 of his 55 passes while throwing for two touchdowns (along with one rushing touchdown). White led Tech’s receivers with 107 receiving yards as Shyne led the run game with 125 rushing yards.
Brooks led the Red Raider defense with 11 tackles (four solo) while junior Evan Rambo recorded Tech’s only sack of the game.
"Knock on wood I don't think anybody got hurt," Brooks said regarding the team's play after to conditioning the Red Raiders had prior to the game." Just getting us stronger. Going in I think we felt the best that we have felt since I've been here at least and that's all that all goes to Coach (Dave) Scholz and his staff and getting us prepared."
The Red Raiders will stay in Lubbock for their next game as they take on the University of Texas at El Paso at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7.