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Texas Tech 27, Texas 23: Horns’ late collapse helps Raiders make a bowl, save their coach

Posted November 24th, 2017

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It’s over at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Texas, which was a 10-point favorite, has fallen to Texas Tech, 27-23.

It was a desperation night for the Red Raiders, who needed this win to (a) become bowl-eligible and (b) possibly save Kliff Kingsbury’s job.

But Texas controlled things for most of the night. Until the closing minutes of the fourth quarter.

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Red Raiders quarterback Nic Shimonek, who was benched for three quarters, threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally Tech. And Sam Ehlinger threw two costly interceptions in the final quarter, one that led to Tech’s winning touchdown, the other that sealed the Longhorns’ loss.

This was Tech’s biggest comeback since 2004.

The closing minutes

Texas Tech, trailing by 3, had two chances but ended up punting both times. The Longhorns looked like they were going to run down the clock, but Justus Parker picked off an Ehlinger pass and returned it 55 yards to the 14-yard line. It was Ehlinger who made the tackle that saved the touchdown.

On first down, Poona Ford sacked Shimonek for a 2-yard loss with 1:50 left.

On second-and-12 from the 16, Shimonek lofted a pass to Cameron Batson into the end zone. DeShon Elliott, who’s had such a big season and also a solid game, fell down in coverage, allowing Batson the easy catch.

That gave Tech a 27-23 lead with 1:47 to go.

Texas’ last-gasp drive started at its own 25. Ehlinger found Lorenzo Joe for 4 yards, then kept it for a 5-yard gain off the left side for a first down. Armanti Foreman, all alone in a soft spot of Tech’s zone, gained 26 yards to Tech’s 40.

Kyle Porter lost 2 yards on a short pass, and Texas called timeout with 1:04 left. On second-and-12 from Tech’s 42, Ehlinger either didn’t see John Burt open over the middle or chose not to throw to him; instead, he targeted Collin Johnson. The pass was picked off by Douglas Coleman, effectively ending the game.

Why Texas (6-6, 5-4) lost

Critical mistakes in the closing minutes. Ehlinger’s two picks were critical — the first, with 2:06 left in the game, set up the Red Raiders’ winning touchdown and the second, with 55 seconds left, sealed the loss. It ruined a stellar night from Michael Dickson and a solid effort (again) by the Texas defense, which forced two turnovers and had three sacks. Ehlinger, who again was up and down, had more ups than downs — until the final few minutes of the game, that is.

Why Texas Tech (6-6, 3-6) won

Because Nic Shimonek was benched for only three quarters, not four. Because the defense came up with those two season-saving interceptions in the final four minutes of the game. And maybe because the Red Raiders simply had to have this one. There’s a reason why players ended up dancing in the locker room. Kliff Kingsbury, fighting for his job, must have had a good reason for benching Shimonek in favor of McLane Carter, who had three long completions of 41, 51 and 40 yards but also was picked off twice himself.

The last five Texas-Texas Tech games:

2013: Texas, 41-16 (DKR)

2014: Texas, 34-13 (Lubbock)

2015: Texas Tech, 48-45 (DKR)

2016: Texas, 45-37 (Lubbock)

2017: Texas Tech, 27-23 (DKR)

The series: Texas leads all-time, 50-17. That includes a 30-7 advantage in Austin. The Red Raiders now have won their last two games at Royal-Memorial Stadium.

Next up

A bowl game. We’ll find out when and where the Longhorns will play on Sunday, Dec. 3.

How it all happened

FIRST QUARTER

Texas 7, Texas Tech 7. Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele both played, although Ehlinger helmed three of the four first-quarter drives. Ehlinger was 3 of 3 on the opening drive and also caught a 27-yard receiver pass from Lil’Jordan Humphrey on it. Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley had a touchdown overturned by replay, but xx quarterback McLane Carter — starting in place of fifth-year senior Nic Shimonek, who’s been benched — punched in the tying score on the very next play.

Texas: Armanti Foreman 27-yard pass from Sam Ehlinger (Joshua Rowland kick, 13:29)

Texas Tech: Antoine Wesley 1-yard pass from McLane Carter (Clayton Hatfield kick, 3:37)

SECOND QUARTER

Halftime: Texas 20, Texas Tech 10. The Red Raiders took the lead just two plays into the quarter, on a field goal. But Texas countered with a field goal of its own — the Longhorns’ first field goal since Oct. 28 — and then regained control on Daniel Young’s second touchdown in as many games. That touchdown was set up by Kris Boyd’s 44-yard interception return and Davante Davis’ final-minute pick set up a field goal.

Texas Tech: Hatfield 32-yard field goal (14:49)

Texas: Rowland 20-yard field goal (8:07)

Texas: Daniel Young 9-yard run (Rowland kick, 6:41)

Texas: Rowland 19-yard field goal (:09)

THIRD QUARTER

Texas 20, Texas Tech 13. The Red Raiders turned it into a one-touchdown game, but it could have been worse. Tech missed a field goal after Reggie Hemphill-Mapps’ muffed put set the Raiders up at Texas’ 32. Tech also was unable to do anything with a Toneil Carter fumble at Tech’s 35.

Texas Tech: Hatfield 34-yard field goal (10:06)

FOURTH QUARTER

Final: Texas Tech 27, Texas 23. Shimonek was benched for three quarters before replacing Carter for the fourth. He promptly hit Keke Coutee for 52 yards, then threw a touchdown pass to T.J. Vasher to make it a 23-20 game. Ehlinger threw two game-killing picks late, the second one snuffing out what could have been a game-winning drive in the final minute.

Texas: Rowland 40-yard field goal (14:23)

Texas Tech: T.J. Vasher 13-yard pass from Nic Shimonek (Hatfield kick, 11:29)Texas Tech: Cameron Batson 16-yard pass from Shimonek (Hatfield kick, 1:47)

Thoughts

1. This one must have stung. Finishing 7-5 would have been a real momentum boost heading into December and the bowl game. Instead, it’s now been four straight years without a winning record in the regular season.

2. High points for the Horns?

  • Michael Dickson may not have the Ray Guy Award on his mind, but we’re betting the Ray Guy Award voters have Dickson on their mind tonight. Tom Herman called the junior punter a weapon earlier this week. Dickson backed that up.Look at what he did with his nine kicks:

60 yards, to the 10-yard line

64 yards, returned to the 12

54 yards, downed at the 12

53 yards, downed at the 3

29 yards, downed at the 8

34 yards, downed at the 1

67 yards, touchback

49 yards, fair catch at the 20

48 yards, fair catch at the 11

Even on the 67-yard touchback, the ball landed at the 1. No Longhorn was able to get down field in time.

Dickson averaged 50.9 yards per punt.

  • Kris Boyd picked off a pass over the middle and returned it 44 yards down to Texas Tech’s 9. It set up a Daniel Young touchdown run on the very next play. Boyd also prevented a touchdown with a goal-line tackle and broke up a third-down pass in the second quarter, forcing a punt. He had an open-field tackle at the 22 that could have been a touchdown run had he not made that tackle for a 2-yard gain. He had two more pass breakups in the third quarter on back-to-back plays, forcing a punt on the second one.
  • Gary Johnson came out of nowhere to drop Carter for a 4-yard loss on Tech’s opening drive, forcing a third-and-10; Tech threw incomplete on third down and had to punt. Later, Johnson forced Carter into a hurried pass that went incomplete.
  • Lil’Jordan Humphrey was involved. He lofted a 27-yard touch pass to Sam Ehlinger on the opening touchdown drive. He later took a reverse play 7 yards down to Tech’s 3. And he converted a third-and-8 play late in the half with a 21-yard catch and run.
  • And let’s not forget Joshua Rowland, the beleaguered kicker who missed seven of his first 14 field goal attempts of the season and was benched last week. He was a perfect 3 for 3 tonight from 20, 19 and 40 yards.

3. And the low points?

  • On second-and-goal from the 3, it looked like Kyle Porter would run left, where Connor Williams and Chris Warren III were in front, blocking. But he instead pitched it to John Burt on a reverse; Burt ran around the right side perhaps on a run/throw option — and opted not to pass it to a wide-open Ehlinger in the end zone. Instead, Burt looked like he thought about running it in, then changed his mind and threw it. The pass was out of bounds. The Longhorns ended up settling for a field goal.
  • That field goal was a bit of a downer, though it was kicked by Joshua Rowland, which was significant; Rowland, who’s now 8 of 15 on the season, was benched last week in favor of Mitchell Becker. But the field goal was a disappointing way to close the series that saw the Longhorns run FIVE plays from inside the 3-yard line — a Kyle Porter run for no gain, an Ehlinger run for 2, a 2-yard loss for Ehlinger, Burt’s incomplete trick-play pass to Ehlinger, and an incomplete pass to Reggie Hemphill-Mapps.

Tom Herman, who said earlier this season that he hates 20-yard field goals, settled for a 20-yard field goal.

  • A Dickson punt that Josh Thompson downed at the 1 led to another short-field opportunity after the defense forced a three-and-out. But Toneil Carter coughed up the ball — Texas’ first turnover of the game.
  • Texas’ second turnover came the very next time they touched the ball. Reggie Hemphill-Mapps botched a fair catch on a punt, giving Tech — trailing 20-13 — the ball at the 32. The Red Raiders ended up missing a field goal, though.
  • Collin Johnson jumped too early on a long pass in the third quarter, near Tech’s 20. Armanti Foreman dropped a pass that would’ve given Texas a first down inside the 20. Those two plays happened on the same drive at the end of the third.
  • Connor Williams was called for holding in the fourth quarter, wiping out an 11-yard pass to Armanti Foreman. The Longhorns, nursing a 3-point lead, ended up punting it away with 9:05 left to play.

Texas’ drives

Texas has had 17 drives, all but one quarterbacked by Sam Ehlinger. Shane Buechele came in for the Horns’ third series:

First quarter

Ehlinger: 4 plays, 75 yards, 1:31 (touchdown)

Ehlinger: 3 plays, 3 yards, 1:23 (punt)

Buechele: 3 plays, minus-1 yard, 2:03 (punt)

Ehlinger: 3 plays, 9 yards 1:23 (punt)

Second quarter

Ehlinger: 3 plays, 7 yards, 1:27 (punt)

Ehlinger: 14 plays, 37 yards, 4:36 (field goal)

Ehlinger: 1 play, 9 yards, :06 (touchdown)

Ehlinger: 9 plays, 36 yards, 2:37 (punt)

Ehlinger: 5 plays, 188 yards, :39 (field goal)

Third quarter

Ehlinger: 6 plays, 40 yards, 1:46 (punt)

Ehlinger: 2 plays, 20 yards, :22 (fumble)

Ehlinger: 3 plays, 2 yards, 1:00 (punt)

Ehlinger: 13 plays, 48 yards, 3:50 (field goal)

Fourth quarter

Ehlinger: 3 plays, 7 yards, 2:24 (punt)

Ehlinger: 3 plays, 6 yards, 1:27 (punt)

Ehlinger: 7 plays, 34 yards, 3:41 (interception)

Ehlinger: 5 plays, 33 yards, :52 (interception)

The post Texas Tech 27, Texas 23: Horns’ late collapse helps Raiders make a bowl, save their coach appeared first on Hook ‘Em.

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