Hodges Throws Last Minute Score as No. 15 Red Raiders Remain Undefeated
Oct. 8, 2005
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Coach Mike Leach's head was spinning after all that happened in the final minutes of Texas Tech's win over Nebraska.
Had it not been for Nebraska nose tackle Le Kevin Smith fumbling while returning an interception, No. 15 Texas Tech wouldn't have been in position for Cody Hodges to throw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Joel Filani with 12 seconds left in a 34-31 victory Saturday.
"I don't even remember that," a straight-faced Leach said a few minutes after the game. "Oh, yeah, that was a good deal."
Actually, it was a great deal for the Red Raiders (5-0, 1-0), who squandered a 21-point lead before scoring late to preserve their best start since 1998.
Smith intercepted Hodges near the goal line with 1:11 left and, instead of falling down to secure possession for Nebraska, he decided to run the ball back. Bryan Kegans pried the ball loose, and Danny Amendola recovered to set up the Raiders at the Nebraska 18.
"To be honest, I cried a little," Tech linebacker Fletcher Sessions said. "When the dude tried to run the ball and it got tipped out, I said 'It's meant for us to win this game."'
On fourth-and-2 from the 10, and with Titus Adams and Wali Muhammad in his face, Hodges threw into end zone, where a diving Filani pulled in the ball for the winning touchdown.
"We had him hemmed in and pinned on the rush," Nebraska coach Bill Callahan said. "I thought we had him for a sack, but he made a hell of a play."
The Huskers (4-1, 1-1), who lost 70-10 in Lubbock last year, trailed 21-0 early in the second quarter. But they were in position to avenge their worst loss in school history with their greatest comeback. Zac Taylor's 4-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Nunn gave Nebraska its first lead, 28-27, with 10:10 left. Jordan Congdon's 27-yard field goal made it a four-point cushion.
The Raiders converted two fourth downs in the last 2 minutes and handed the Huskers their first homecoming loss since 1968.
"Moses was in high school the last time these guys lost on homecoming," Leach said. "Those ghosts circle around (Memorial Stadium), and you have to fight through that and everything else. Hanging in there as an entire team is what happened best."
Nebraska linebacker Bo Ruud said the wrong team won.
"That's the worst luck we've had at Nebraska, I think, ever," linebacker Bo Ruud said. "I don't think Nebraska has ever lost a game like that. That's a hard one to deal with."
Hodges, the nation's leading passer, completed 34 of 45 attempts for 368 yards and four touchdowns - three to Filani, who had 11 catches for 163 yards.
Taylor was 21-of-35 for 229 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions.
"We showed that we're fighters," he said. "We're not going to give up. Things just didn't our way in the end."
The Huskers committed five turnovers but still almost stole a victory after Jay Moore punched the ball out of Hodges' hands with 11:53 to play. Ruud picked up the ball and ran 46 yards to the Tech 14.
Four plays later, Taylor lofted a pass to Nunn over Antonio Huffman in the back corner of the end zone.
Callahan said he had no problem with Smith running back his interception.
"He makes a big play and is trying to do his best," Callahan said. "They're kids, and they're excitable."
Smith didn't speak with the media after the game, but backup nose tackle Ola Dagunduro said Smith told teammates in the locker room that he made a mistake by not falling down.
"Instinct is to go, go, go," Dagunduro said.
Moore said he yelled at Smith to go down, but Smith couldn't hear him because of the crowd noise.
"I wish I would have tackled him," Moore said.
Taurean Henderson became Tech's all-time leader in receptions. He caught six passes for 51 yards to raise his career total to 262, tying him for the NCAA record for receptions by a running back with Long Beach State's Mark Templeton (1984-87). Henderson led Tech rushers with 50 yards on 11 carries.
Cory Ross ran 15 times for 68 yards and caught four passes for 51 yards.
Tech, playing its first road game, scored on three of its first four possessions to lead 21-0.
Henderson took a short pass from Hodges and slipped out of the grasp of safety Daniel Bullocks for a 23-yard touchdown on the game's opening series.
Hodges threw passes of 14 and 19 yards to Filani for the big lead early in the second quarter.
"Most teams would have laid down, but they kept coming and kept coming," Hodges said. "We're just lucky to get a win and get out of here."
Cody Glenn touchdown runs of 5 and 1 yard pulled the Huskers to 21-14 at halftime, and they were within 27-21 late in the third quarter after Taylor's 15-yard TD pass to Nunn.
"We've been wanting these guys since last year," said Ruud, who played on special teams during last year's 60-point loss to the Raiders. "This is a team we've been dying to get after. We let it slip."