The BYU Cougars defeated Texas Tech University Red Raiders 27-14 at Lavell Edwards Stadium Saturday night.
“I’m happy with the win,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake postgame. “I thought (the) guys played with great effort and energy.”
Jake Strong started as quarterback for the Red Raiders after Behren Morton was deemed unable to play.
“We prepared for both (quarterbacks) going into the game,” said BYU safety Ethan Slade. “We knew that the other quarterback was banged up from last week, and so we have kind of prepared for both. But, in a sense, the game plan was the same. It does not matter who was going to play.”
LJ Martin took a shovel pass from Kedon Slovis on the second play of the game and ran the ball 55 yards to set BYU up on the Texas Tech 20-yard-line. Five plays later, Slovis connected with Chase Roberts for a three-yard passing touchdown to give them a 7-0 lead.
Texas Tech rushed the ball for a total of 66 yards on the team’s opening drive. The drive stalled out, however, after a fourth down fumble from the BYU four-yard line led to a turnover on downs.
The fumble troubles continued for the Red Raiders when the first play of the team’s next drive was a fumbled handoff that Eddie Heckard recovered in the endzone to give the Cougars a 14-0 lead.
“Eddie is Eddie man, that dude is always making plays,” said BYU defensive end Tyler Batty. “When he recovered it in the endzone, I was like, ‘of course, of course it was Eddie.’ He is just that type of dude. He is just always making plays.”
After one quarter, the Cougars led the Red Raiders 14-0, while both teams gained 88 yards of offense in the quarter.
Texas Tech struck back when Strong connected with Xavier White for a 72-yard touchdown on 3rd and 17, making the score 14-7.
Following the converted extra point, Jayden York was ejected from the game for Texas Tech after he spat in the face of Batty.
“I just pancaked one of their offensive linemen and was laying on top of him, then I got up and this dude just comes out of nowhere to start saying all sorts of stuff and then he spit in my face,” Batty said.
Darius Lassiter made a one-handed 31-yard catch over the head of Malik Dunlap to give the Cougars a first down on the Red Raiders’ 37-yard line. Five plays later, Slovis found Lassiter for a four-yard passing touchdown, putting them ahead 21-7.
“Wherever the ball is in the air, I feel like anytime it is in the air, it is mine,” Lassiter said. “So, that’s my mindset. Whether the ball is low, high or super far, I want to make every catch possible.”
The Red Raiders marched the ball to the BYU 35-yard line with 2:33 remaining in the first half before a Strong pass was intercepted by Heckard and returned to the Texas Tech 40-yard line.
The Cougars extended their lead on the ensuing possession when Will Ferrin connected on a 35-yard field goal to make the score 24-7.
BYU picked up their third forced turnover of the first half when Jakob Robinson intercepted a pass from Strong and ran the clock out to end the half.
After one half, the Cougars led the Red Raiders 24-7, while Texas Tech outgained BYU 233 yards-199 yards.
Texas Tech took a risk with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter when they gambled on fourth down. BYU’s defense stood strong on the play as Strong’s pass fell incomplete after the play was broken up by Ethan Slade.
BYU was forced to punt the ball on the ensuing possession. On the punt, Myles Price fumbled the return and punter Ryan Rehkow recovered the ball to retain the ball for the Cougars.
The Cougars took advantage of the Red Raiders’ mistake when Ferrin connected on a field goal from 41 yards away with 1:19 remaining in the third quarter, advancing their lead to 27-7.
After three quarters, the Cougars led the Red Raiders 27-7, while being outgained 285 yards-250 yards.
Texas Tech converted a 4th and 4 after Strong connected with Jordan Brown for 36 yards early in the fourth quarter to extend the team’s hopes. The Red Raiders capitalized on the opportunity when Brooks fought his way into the endzone with a one-yard run, cutting the deficit to 27-14 with 8:41 remaining.
“I think we got too dramatic at the end,” Sitake said.
The Red Raiders moved the ball to the BYU 43-yard line with 5:48 remaining, however, turnovers would again hurt them as Strong threw his third interception a pass downfield that was intercepted by Slade.
“That’s my first one (interception), so it feels amazing,” Slade said. “That’s kind of the goal is to have some takeaways. So, that was just a dream come true to make that play in Lavell at that moment.”
In the end, the Cougars defeated the Red Raiders 27-14.
“Still a lot of room for improvement in all three phases,” Sitake said. “But, we will take this win and we will build on it and then look forward to playing our best next week when we get to Austin, Texas.”
For BYU, Slovis completed 15/27 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Martin led the way on the ground, rushing for 93 yards on ten carries. On defense, Crew Wakley led the way with 11 tackles, while Heckard secured an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
For Texas Tech, Strong completed 19/37 passes for 236 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Brooks carried the load for them on the ground with 31 rushing attempts for 105 yards. Defensively, Ben Roberts racked up ten tackles to lead the Red Raiders.
“I would say that he (Strong) did a good job,” Batty said. “There was a couple of times, yeah, we got to him and hit him and he kept going. So I think, credit to him and just being tough. You know, credit to their whole team. You know, they kept coming all game long. They wanted to play.”