Aug. 31, 1996
Texas Tech Falls to Kansas State, 21-14By Garrett McKinnon
MANHATTAN, KAN. - It would figure that the first Big 12 football game, between the Kansas State Wildcats and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, would come down to the final few seconds. In the end, though, it was Kansas State winning the conference's first game Saturday, 21-14.
Tech kickoff returner Clint Robertson earned the honor of returning the first kickoff. Afterwards, the Red Raiders drove from their own 30 to the K-State 36-yard line, but kicker Tony Rogers was unable to connect on a 53-yard field goal attempt.
After holding the Wildcats to three downs and out on their first possession, the Red Raiders dodged two early bullets. Tech quarterback Zebbie Lethridge fumbled the football at the Tech 45-yard line, where it was recovered by K-State.
The Raider defense held, though, but the ensuing punt was muffed by punt returner Dane Johnson, and the Wildcats recovered on the 10-yard line.
Once again, the Raider `D' was up to the challenge, stuffing Wildcat running back Mike Lawrence for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line.
The Raider offense once again drove the field, where Rogers connected on a 53-yard field goal.
Kansas State's next drive was aided by a 15-yard roughing-the-passer penalty. The Wildcats scored on quarterback Brian Kavanagh's one-yard keeper shortly afterward, and the `Cats led 7-3.
The Raiders moved the football well on their next possession, but Rogers was just wide on a 48-yard field goal attempt, and the Wildcats maintained the lead.
That lead was extended the next drive, when Kavanagh hit wide receiver Jimmy Dean on a 17-yard screen pass that went for a touchdown, pushing the margin to 14-3.
The first half was winding down as Tech drove to try and narrow the gap. A gutsy fake field goal went for a first down on the K-State nine-yard line with less than a minute to go. The Raiders could not push across the goal line, though, and settled for a short field goal attempt, which was blocked.
The third quarter was a classic defensive struggle, with neither team able to move the ball well. Field position shifted to favor Kansas State, a factor that would become very important.
The score remained 14-3 early in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats seemed to nail the coffin shut.
Deep-snapper Brad Spink's snap to punter Jeremy Hernadez was high, and the Wildcats recovered the ball in the Raider end zone for a touchdown, making the score a seemingly-unsurmountable 21-3.
The Raiders did not quit, and jumped right back in the game with a long scoring drive. Missing star running back Byron Hanspard, who had run for 115 yards on 21 carries in the first three quarters. Even without Hanspard, who had suffered an ankle sprain in the third quarter, the Raiders finally got into the end zone on a 14-yard pass from Lethridge to fullback Sammy Morris. Head coach Spike Dykes opted for the two-point conversion, which was successful when Lethridge hit tight end Brad Spinks in the back of the end zone for the deuce.
Suddenly, the Raiders were back in the game, trailing 21-11 with 6:39 left to play. The Raider defense rose to the occasion following the kickoff, holding the Wildcats to three-plays and out.
The Raiders got the ball back with 4:40 left in the game. The offense was then able to mount a short drive, and kicker Jaret Greaser nailed a 53-yard field goal to pull Tech within seven points.
An onside kick attempt with 2:26 left was unsuccessful, but on the Wildcats first play from scrimmage, Kavanagh's handoff to Lawrence was fumbled and Tech linebacker Robert Johnson pounced on the loose ball.
Running back Adrian Ervin, subbing for the lamed Hanspard, carried for 19 yards on Tech's first play after the Wildcat turnover. More successful rushes followed, and the Raiders found themselves on the 14-yard line with 1:45 left to play.
That's where the comeback ended, though. Pushed back by penalties and facing a fourth-down and 18-yards to go, Lethridge attempted a pass to Raider wideout Donnie Hart. Hart caught the ball in the air at the three-yard line, which would have been good for a first down. A savage blow by Wildcat free safety Mario Smith jarred the ball loose, and K-State took over on downs to run out the clock.
With the victory, Kansas State (1-0 and ranked No. 21 heading into the game) pushed its home record to 33-4-1 since 1990, one of the best records in football during that period.
The Raiders (0-1), who were 6-1/2 point underdogs, begin the season with a narrow road loss for the second consecutive year. In 1995, Tech began the season with a 24-23 loss on the road against fourth-ranked Penn State.
Several factors contributed to the loss, chief among them being breakdowns in the kicking game. Tech kickers were 2-6 on field goals, and a missed punt snap proved to be the final margin of victory.
Those breakdowns are made all the more tragic when one considers the final statistics. The Red Raiders had 392 yards in total offense, in stark contrast to K-State's 160 yards of offense. The running game, especially, told the story. The Red Raiders romped for 193 yards on the ground, but held the Wildcats to -12 yards rushing, the fewest by a Tech opponent since Southern Methodist only managed -13 in the 1992 season.
The 160 yards total offense was the fewest by Kansas State since they gained a scant 124 yards against Boston College in the 1994 Aloha Bowl.
"We stunk up the kicking game. We missed four field goals, we missed a punt, and snapped a field goal over a guy's head. When you do that you're not going to win ballgames," said Dykes. "I thought our defense played well. We had a little spell before the half, but overall I felt we played good, especially in the second half. We showed some courage and poise."
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder was joyful after the game. "It was about survival. This is a new experience for us. We have never opened with a calibre of a team as Texas Tech. It was a significant win," said Snyder.
Tech players were disappointed with the team's loss. "We had a lot of mental busts. We made our own mistakes," said Hanspard, who hit the 100-yard rushing mark for the seventh consecutive game.
"K-State made the plays when they had to. We didn't make the plays when we needed to. K-State beat us, that's the bottom line," said Dykes.
At: KSU Stadium/Wagner Field Date: Aug. 31, 1996 Att: 43,143 Texas Tech 3 0 0 11 -- 14 Kansas St (21) 0 14 0 7 -- 21 Scoring by Quarters TT - FG, Tony Rogers, 53,13:05 KS - TD, Brian Kavnagh, 1 run (Jamie Rheen kick),3:18 KS - TD, Jimmy Dean, 17 pass from Kavanagh (Rheen kick),13:26 KS - TD, Mario Smith, recovered fumble in end zone (Rheen kick), 2:09 TT - TD, Sammy Morris, 14 pass from Zebbie Letheridge (Brad Spinks, pass for two-point conversion), 8:21 TT - FG, Jaret Greaser, 53, 12:33 KS TT First downs 10 27 Rushing 2 14 Passing 7 11 Penalty 1 2 Rushing Attps 28 55 Rushing Yds 48 271 Yards Lost 60 78 Net Rushing -12 193 Net Yds Passing 172 199 Pass Att 29 48 Pass Comp 12 17 Pass Int 0 0 Off Plays 57 103 Net Yards 160 392 Ave Gain 2.8 3.8 Punts 9-416 4-193 Average 46.2 48.3 Kickoff Ret 3-36 2-39 Ret Yards, net 32 24 Punt ret 3-32 5-24 Int ret 0-0 0-0 Fumble ret 2-0 0-0 Fumbles/lost 2-1 7-2 Penalities 5-42 8-47 3rd down conv 5-15 11-16 Sacks by 7/-39 3/-22 Possession time 25:42 34:18 Individual Statistics Rushing TT -- Hanspard 21-115-0, Ervin 10-68-0, Lethridge 21-34-0, Morris 2-4-0. KS -- Lawrence 17-35-0, Charles 1-3-0, Goolsby 1-0-0, Kavanagh 9/-50-1. Passing TT -- Lethridge 47-16-0-1-190, Scovell 1-1-0-1-9. KS -- Kavanagh 29-12-0-1-172. Receiving TT -- Mitchell 3-69-0, Morris 3-33-1, Hart 3-30-0, Scovell 2-26-0, Bass 1-20-0, Hanspard 2-19-0, Ervin 1-4-0, R.Jones 2/-2-0. KS --Lockett 5-62-0, Dean 3-49-1, Swift 1-32-0, Anderson 1-21-0, Lawrence 2-8-0. Punting TT -- Hernandez 4-193-48.3. KS -- Garcia 9-416-46.2. Field Goals TT -- Greaser 1-1 (53), Rogers 5-1 (53). KS -- None. Interceptions TT -- None. KS -- None. Fumble Recoveries TT -- None. KS -- M. Smith 1, Evans 1.