Tech Downs Kansas 30-17 In Comeback Victory
By Garrett McKinnon
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Coming into their game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the Kansas Jayhawks had committed exactly two turnovers in 16 quarters of play this year. In the end, two fourth-quarter turnovers proved to be their undoing as the Raiders (4-2, 2-1) scored 23 unanswered points in the second half and won a huge road victory over the `Hawks (3-2, 1-1) by a 30-17 score.
The Red Raiders began the ballgame by scoring on their opening drive for the fifth consecutive game. After the Tech defense held the Jayhawks to three-plays-and-punt on the game's first possession, the Raiders went 55 yards in seven plays and scored when quarterback Zebbie Lethridge found Tech's Heisman Trophy candidate I-back Byron Hanspard for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Then momentum shifted. The Raiders held the Jayhawks without a first down, then took over after the punt. But Lethridge fumbled a snap which the Raiders recovered. The fumble cost the Raiders 16 yards, though, and Tech was forced to punt.
The Jayhawks took immediate advantage. A 41-yard screen pass from Jayhawk quarterback Matt Johner to running back June Henley set up a 20-yard touchdown pass from Johner to tight end Hosea Friday that tied the game at 7-7.
The Raiders drove the ball on their next possession, but wide receiver Donnie Hart fumbled the ball inside the Jayhawk 15-yard line and Kansas recovered at their own eight-yard line. The Jayhawks were unable to capitalize on the turnover, and began the second quarter with a punt to the Raiders that gave Tech possession on their own three-yard line.
A short drive was ended when Jayhawk linebacker Jason Harris intercepted a Lethridge pass. A penalty tacked on to the interception return had the `Hawks set up inside the Raider 20-yard line. The Jayhawks moved to a first-and-goal at the Raider three-yard line, but were unable to punch the ball in and settled for a 19-yard field goal by kicker Jeff McCord to make the score 10-7.
After two consecutive three-and-out possessions by the Tech offense, the Jayhawks scored again on a 23-yard pass from Johner to wide receiver Isaac Byrd. With 2:29 left in the first half, the Raiders found themselves on the short end of a 17-7 deficit.
The second half, was a different story, though.
The Raiders forced a Kansas punt on the first possession after halftime. The Tech offense then moved 56 yards in nine plays and scored on a six-yard scamper by fullback Sammy Morris. The Raiders were right back in the game, trailing 14-17 with 8:49 left in the third quarter.
The Jayhawks were not fazed initially. A 77-yard drive had the Jayhawks down at the Tech three-yard line facing third-and-goal. An incomplete pass by Johner forced a field goal attempt that was botched when Johner fumbled the snap.
The Raiders took over at their own three-yard line, but were unable to move past the 25-yard line and had to punt.
The Raider defense held the Jayhawks to another three-and-out possession, but the Raider offense was unable to capitalize on the ensuing offensive series.
That's when the Tech defense stepped up. With 9:08 left in the fourth quarter and the Jayhawks clinging to a three-point lead, free safety Dane Johnson broke up a Johner pass and cornerback Tony Darden intercepted the deflection. Darden returned the ball to the Kansas 11-yard line, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Lethridge moments later. The Raiders were suddenly leading 21-17 with 7:50 left.
It was the first interception Johner had thrown in his career, and only the third Jayhawk turnover all season.
"In the first half we were beating ourselves. We had a different attitude in the second half. It was a great pick by Tony; he was in the right place at the right time," said Raider defensive end Montae Reagor.
On Kansas' next possession, defensive lineman Corey Chandler hit Johner as he was attempting a pass. The ball fluttered to Henley, bounced off him, and was intercepted by Tech linebacker Anthony Armour. Lethridge scored seconds later, again on a one-yard keeper, and the Raiders were up 28-17 with 6:06 left in the game.
Johner drove the Jayhawks to the Tech 46-yard line on the next Kansas drive, but a fourth-down sack by Chandler followed three incompletions and gave the Raiders the ball back with 4:29 left.
The Raiders ran almost a minute off the clock, and a Jeremy Hernandez punt pinned the Jayhawks inside their five-yard line with less than 3:30 remaining on the clock. That's when Kansas' backup quarterback Ben Rutz was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone after being sacked by defensive end Taurus Ruecker. The Tech defense had recorded its first safety of the year to make the score 30-17.
The Raiders then ran out the clock after the free kick, recording their first big road win of the season.
"We came out a little relaxed [in the first half.] You have to take your hat off to Kansas. They're a great team and they played us hard," said Raider offensive guard Shane Dunn. "The defense played their tails off and gave us the football. We did what we had to do."
Texas Tech head coach Spike Dykes was pleased with his team's performance after the win.
"It was amazing. In the first half, we didn't play bad but we didn't play good; we struggled," said Dykes. "This game is 60 minutes long, thank goodness.
"We've got a lot of good leaders on this team. I've never seen a guy as emotional as [defensive end] Tony Daniels was at the half. We've got a lot of character on this team."
"This was a big ball game. Kansas was a top-10 team last year, they beat UCLA in the Aloha Bowl. Our defense in the second half was beautiful," said Dykes.
The game was expected to be a matchup between Hanspard and Henley, the nation's second- and third-leading rushers respectively. Hanspard lived up to his part, matching his career high with 37 carries and a gritty 187 yards rushing. He also caught three passes for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Henley, meanwhile, was held to just 45 yards on 22 carries, well below his 166.8-yards-per-game average. Henley carried only once in the fourth quarter, and his longest gain of the contest was 10 yards.
The Tech defense, after allowing Johner to complete 11 passes for 195 yards in the first half, held the Jayhawk signal-caller to 18 completions in 45 attempts for 268 yards. Johner threw two interceptions in the second half after tossing two first-half touchdowns.
The Jayhawks finished the game with 322 yards total offense (54 total yards rushing), but only managed 91 yards in the second half, with only 18 of those coming on the ground.
The Tech offense racked up 382 yards total offense, including 251 yards rushing. Lethridge completed nine of 16 passes for 131 yards, one touchdown and one interception to account for all the Raider's passing yards.
The Raiders next face defending-national champion Nebraska at 2:30 p.m. CST in Jones Stadium in Lubbock, where the Raiders will be defending an 11-game home winning streak.
NCAAF 1 2 3 4 F - - - - -- Texas Tech 7 0 7 16 30 Kansas 7 10 0 0 17 FINAL Texas Tech - Hanspard 14 pass from Lethridge (Greaser kick) Kansas - Friday 20 pass from Johner (Mccord kick) Kansas - FG Mccord 19 Kansas - Byrd 23 pass from Johner (Mccord kick) Texas Tech - Morris 6 run (Greaser kick) Texas Tech - Lethridge 2 run (Greaser kick) Texas Tech - Lethridge 1 run (Greaser kick) Texas Tech - Safety, Rutz tackled in end zone Texas Tech Kansas First downs 19 17 Rushed-yards 55-251 31-61 Passing yards 130 268 Sacked-yards lost 2-13 3-21 Return yards 28 8 Passes 9-16-1 18-45-2 Punts 7-36.4 6-38.5 Fumbles-lost 4-1 0-0 Penalties-yards 8-69 2-10 Time of possession 32:58 27:02 Individual Statistics RUSHING: Texas Tech-Hanspard 37-190, Morris 5-31, Lethridge 12-23, R Jones 1-7. Kansas-Henley 22-43, Johner 7-20, Sanders 1-2, Rutz 1-minus 4. PASSING: Texas Tech-Lethridge 9-16-1-130. Kansas-Johner 18-44-2-268, Rutz 0-1-0-0. RECEIVING: Texas Tech-Hanspard 3-32, Mckenzie 2-23, Hart 1-37, Allamon 1-16, Dubuc 1-11, Morris 1-11. Kansas-Byrd 7-129, Henley 3-57, Friday 2-37, E Vann 2-8, Gordon 1-13, Galbreath 1-11, M Chandler 1-7, Carter 1-6. Att: 46,500