Texas Tech Downs Texas A&M 13-10
By Garrett McKinnon
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - For the second time in as many years, the Texas Tech Red Raiders won a nail-biter over the Texas A&M Aggies, 13-10.
Despite several missed opportunities in the first half, the Raiders (5-3, 4-2) were able to win a game in College Station for the first time since 1984, and won back-to-back games against the Aggies (3-5, 1-3) for the first time since 1983-84.
The Raiders beat the Aggies 14-7 last year in Lubbock on a last-second interception return for a touchdown by All-America linebacker Zach Thomas.
The first half was marked by several blown opportunities by the Raiders.
After driving 26 yards for a 45-yard Jaret Greaser field goal on their first drive, the Raiders appeared to be driving for a touchdown on their third drive. Facing a third-and-goal from the one-yard line, the Raiders were flagged for illegal procedure. On the next play, quarterback Zebbie Lethridge fumbled the ball and A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen recovered at the Aggie three-yard line.
The Raider defense held, and on the next drive, the Raiders scored on Greaser's 43-yard field goal to make the score 6-0 early in the second quarter.
The Raiders missed another opportunity on the next Aggie drive. Aggie running back Sirr Parker fumbled and Raider defensive end Tony Daniels recovered at the A&M 38-yard line. The offense was unable to move the ball, though, and were forced to punt from the 34-yard line.
A&M got their only points of the first half on the ensuing drive. Aggie freshman running back Dante Hall ran 74 yards to the Raider 6-yard line. The Raider defense stiffened, holding the Aggies to Kyle Bryant's 31-yard field goal.
With three minutes and change remaining in the first half, the Raiders drove 72 yards to the Aggie eight-yard line with less than a minute left. The drive stalled, and Greaser's 27-yard field goal attempt ricocheted off the left upright, keeping the score 6-3 Tech at the halftime.
"We made some mistakes, but we just hung in there," said Tech offensive guard Casey Jones.
The third quarter, early on anyway, was a defensive struggle. Neither team was able to generate a long drive.
That changed when Tech fullback Sammy Morris fumbled the ball inside the Aggie 40-yard line and the Ags recovered. Two quick tosses by A&M quarterback Branndon Stewart set the Raiders up inside the Tech 30. That's when Hall broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run to give the Aggies a 10-6 lead.
After the Raiders were unable to move the ball, the Aggies got the ball on the Tech half of the field and drove inside the Raider 10-yard line. Daniels, playing a monster game at defensive end, forced a fumble which linebacker Ryan Donahue recovered at the Raider 7-yard line.
Tech went three and out, setting up the Aggies at the Raider 39-yard line after a short punt. The Aggies drove to the 28-yard line to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Bryant did not get the ball kicked in time, though, and the Aggies were penalized five yards for delay of game and punted.
The Raiders began their next drive pinned inside their own five-yard line. Gritty running by Tech I-back and Heisman Trophy-candidate Byron Hanspard put the ball at the Tech 29, when Hanspard broke free for what would have been a 70-yard run to the Aggie one-yard line. The Raiders, though, were flagged for holding at the Aggie 29-yard line, spotting the ball at the 39-yard line. Tech could drive no more, though, and punted the ball.
The Aggies could not put together a sustained drive on their next possession, and punted to the Tech 19-yard line.
The clock showed 6:20 when 70,000 screaming Aggie fans suddenly went quiet.
On the first play of the drive, Lethridge found Morris wide open on the right sideline. Morris scampered 81 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
"Zebbie hit me right on the money. I had no choice but to catch it," said Morris.
The Raider defense held the Aggies to three-plays and out after the score, but the Raider offense was unable to gain a first down to run out the clock and the Raiders were forced to punt.
The Aggies took over the ball at their own 29-yard line with 2:36 left to go. Two plays later, they were at midfield with just under two minutes to play. The Aggies were facing fourth-down and three yards to go when Daniels sealed the victory with a sack of Stewart.
"We came up with some big plays offensively and defensively," said Daniels. "We knew we had to buckle up and not give up any big plays (late in the game.)"
Statistically, the Red Raiders rolled up some impressive numbers against the No. 29 defense in the country.
Hanspard carried 41 times for 199 yards. It marked the first time since 1984 that a Raider running back had gained more than 100 yards against A&M's "Wrecking Crew" defense.
In all, the Raiders gained 228 yards rushing. It did not stop there, though. Lethridge completed 10 of 25 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown.
The Raider defense (ranked 27th in the nation) stepped up as well, holding the Aggies to 311 total yards. The Aggies did manage 257 rushing yards, but highly-touted quarterback Stewart finished the game with six completions in 19 attempts for only 54 yards.
Aggie wide receiver Albert Connell came into the game ranked ninth nationally in receptions and 13th nationally in receiving yards per game. He did not catch a pass against the Raiders.
"It was a complete football game, as far as everyone hanging together," said Tech head coach Spike Dykes. "Being good enough to overcome mistakes and win is the mark of a good football team."
QUARTER 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH FINAL TEXAS TECH 3 3 0 7 13 TEXAS A&M 0 3 7 0 10 1st quarter Texas Tech, 11:11 left, field goal Texas Tech Jaret Greaser 45 yard 2nd quarter Texas Tech, 08:25 left, field goal Texas Tech Jaret Greaser 43 yard Texas A&M, 03:23 left, field goal Texas A&M Kyle Bryant 31 yard 3rd quarter Texas A&M, 01:42 left, touchdown Texas A&M Dante Hall 28 yard run (Kyle Bryant Kick) 4th quarter Texas Tech, 06:00 left, touchdown Texas Tech Sammy Morris 81 yard pass from Zebbie Lethridge (Tony Rogers Kick) Texas Tech Texas A&m First downs 23 15 Rushed-yards 64-242 41-260 Passing yards 182 54 Sacked-yards lost 4-25 6-44 Return yards 52 29 Passes 10-25-0 6-19-0 Punts 7-34.6 8-44.9 Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-2 Penalties-yards 4-25 8-46 Time of possession 37:12 22:48 Individual Statistics RUSHING: Texas Tech-Hanspard 41-198, Morris 5-29, Lethridge 17-11, Ervin 1-4. Texas A&m-Hall 17-184, Parker 10-47, Hardeman 7-36, M Williams 1-1, Stewart 6-minus 8. PASSING: Texas Tech-Lethridge 10-25-0-182. Texas A&m-Stewart 6-19-0-54. RECEIVING: Texas Tech-Mckenzie 3-26, Morris 2-96, Hart 2-36, Dubuc 1-12, Allamon 1-8, Hanspard 1-4. Texas A&m-Spiller 1-24, Hardeman 1-15, Hawkins 1-7, Oliver 1-6, Parker 1-3, Hall 1-minus 1. Att: 70,147