It’s halftime at Royal-Memorial Stadium. Texas, which is a 10-point favorite today, is leading Texas Tech, 28-21.
It’s cold and rainy, and the Longhorns — who have dropped three of their last four games, will play in a lesser bowl game and have slogged their way out of Big 12 championship contention down the home stretch — started slowly, fell behind by a couple of touchdowns and looked like they were content to say goodbye to their seniors with a yawn. But things have turned around and this at least looks like Texas has gone from a disturbing end-of-season no show into finding reasons to win this one.
There have been plenty of big plays, from 30-yard Jett Duffey and Sam Ehlinger completions to Devin Duvernay’s historic 100th catch of the season — a 75-yard touchdown. The much-maligned defense has an impressive goal-line stand, Tech is down its best defensive player as well as its starting running back but Texas is down one of its top offensive stars as well as two starting cornerbacks.
The road team has won the last five games in this series. Texas is going to end the regular season either 7-5 or 6-6, and given the way the past month has gone, 7-5 sounds a lot better than 6-6.
Scoring — so far
First quarter: Texas Tech 14, Texas 6
Texas Tech: KeSean Carter 13-yard pass from Jett Duffey (Trey Wolff kick, 6:53)
Texas Tech: SaRodorick Thompson 10-yard run (Wolff kick, 4:14)
Texas: Sam Ehlinger 10-yard run (Cameron Dicker kick blocked, :54)
Second quarter: Texas 28, Texas Tech 21 (halftime)
Texas: Daniel Young 3-yard run (Devin Duvernay pass from Ehlinger, 13:09)
Texas Tech: Erik Ekuanma 24-yard pass from Duffey (Wolff kick, 8:13)
Texas: Duvernay 75-yard pass from Ehlinger (Dicker kick, 8:02)
Texas: Roschon Johnson 1-yard run (Dicker kick, 1:22)
Rewind: First half
1. Texas, down 7-0, drove to Texas Tech’s 24 when the Horns decided to go for it on fourth-and-1. Ehlinger was stuffed on his sneak attempt for no gain. After Roschon Johnson was tripped up on third down, the Horns went with the hurry-up effort to try to get Ehlinger up the middle. But the only line push was the one going back.
2. Collin Johnson is out again with his bad hamstring. Maybe for the bowl game?
3. With Johnson not playing, Ehlinger worked early passes to several receivers, getting them involved from the start. Devin Duvernay, with three catches for 128 yards and a touchdown, is not surprisingly leading the way, but Brennan Eagles (2-15), Malcolm Epps (2-42) and Jake Smith (1-11) all are contributing. In all, seven different Longhorns have caught a pass.
4. Starting cornerbacks Jalen Green and Anthony Cook are out with injuries, too. And Caden Sterns was shaken up at the end of the first quarter. Seemed to be a rib injury; he was fitted with a brace and was back on the field for Tech’s next offensive drive..
5. Two of the first three plays were Sam Ehlinger runs — an 11-yard gain and a 7-yard keeper — but the fourth snap for Texas was a sack. That was the 33rd sack of the season allowed by Texas, which is the worst in the Big 12. That’s been the lone sack of the day for Tech. Texas has two.
6. Keaontay Ingram, bad ankle and all, got the start and recorded a carry and a catch on the first drive. He’s had only two carries, though, for 17 yards. Roschon Johnson has 12 carries for 52 yards and the touchdown, and Ehlinger has run it eight times.
7. Johnson injured his left leg, maybe his left knee, after getting rolled upon at the end of a hard-fought 10-yard gain. He was helped off the field by a couple of trainers. Daniel Young, who scored a touchdown last week, replaced Johnson and scored his latest short touchdown.
Johnson was back in the game on Texas’ next drive.
8. Texas ranks 124th out of 130 teams in the country when it comes to defending the pass. Duffey is 16 of 24 for 231 yards and two touchdowns. KeSean Carter has seven grabs for 125 yards and a score.
In the quarterbacks matchup, Ehlinger is 11 of 14 for 218 yards and a touchdown.
9. Texas Tech linebacker Jordyn Brooks is out with a hurt shoulder, and it looks like the Butkus Award finalist may be out for the rest of the season. He may have surgery within the week. That’s a big loss. The Raiders also saw SaRodorick Thompson leave with 12 minutes left in the half.
- D’Shawn Jamison had a 34-yard kickoff to start Texas at its own 36 for UT’s second drive.
- Malcolm Epps has made another nice grab, building on what he did last week in Waco. He went high for a 36-yard pass from Ehlinger. He works the sidelines well. Two plays later, he drew a 15-yard pass interference call on Tech defender Desmon Smith.
- Malcolm Roach made a big sack on a third-and-8 play that ended the first quarter. It (a) forced Tech’s first punt of the game, (b) helped put Dicker’s blocked extra-point kick in the rearview mirror, (c) seemed to snap awake both the crowd and sideline, and (d) came one play after Sterns left with the injury, causing a further energy suck at DKR.
Roach also made a nice goal-line stop on third-and-goal from the 1, on UT’s second-quarter goal-line stand.
- There was another Marcus Washington sighting. The freshman flashed in the second quarter with a 16-yard gain that was all Washington. With Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay about to move on, Washington is finishing the regular season nicely. That could set him up for an important offseason and spring.
- Duvernay made a really nice grab on the sideline for a 33-yard catch in the second quarter, setting the Horns up at Tech’s 3-yard line. It led to a Young touchdown run and an Ehlinger pass to Duvernay for two points to tie it up.
- Speaking of Duvernay, he became only the third Longhorn to catch 100 passes in one season. And No. 100 was a big one — a 75-yard touchdown pass that Ehlinger placed over the safety. Duvernay joins Jordan Shipley and Kwame Cavil on that 100-catch list.
Texas, which won the opening coin toss, chose to receive to start the game. So Texas Tech will get the ball to open the third quarter.
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