LUBBOCK, Texas — It wasn’t pretty, but Texas Tech football clawed to a 28-22 win over Stephen F. Austin Saturday, improving to 2-0 on the season.
It took a goal-line stand with less than a minute left on the clock for the Red Raiders to pull out the win. They overcame a 13-7 halftime deficit and three turnovers from quarterback Tyler Shough.
Down by six, the Lumberjacks had first-and-goal with less than two minutes left when Red Raider defensive tackle Jaylon Hutchings stuffed a run and sacked quarterback Trae Self. On fourth down, Self’s pass fell to the turf to seal Texas Tech’s win.
While Texas Tech’s performance was uneven throughout, the game got off to a picture-perfect start. Shough found Erik Ezukanma on the third play from scrimmage, who broke into the open field and raced into the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
The Red Raiders would not score again until the second half.
Stephen F. Austin strung together an 18-play drive on its first offensive series, but came up empty-handed after DaMarcus Fields broke up a fourth-down pass in the end zone.
The Lumberjacks did score four minutes later, when Shough threw a pass right to SFA’s Willie Roberts, who somersaulted into the end zone for a game-tying touchdown.
Texas Tech’s offensive woes did not stop there. After Ezukanma’s touchdown, its offensive drives before halftime ended in three punts and two interceptions. Aside from a couple of quarterback keepers by Shough, the Red Raiders were not able to generate traction on the ground and Shough’s passes were inaccurate.
Texas Tech gifted SFA three points in the first half when McLane Mannix muffed a punt and SFA recovered deep in Texas Tech territory. The Lumberjacks tacked on another field goal before halftime.
The tide turned in the second half, in large part due to Texas Tech’s stellar run game. With SaRodorick Thompson out with an injury, Tahj Brooks and Xavier White filled in admirably, each breaking off a run longer than 50 yards and combining for three second-half touchdowns.
The second half started much like the first one did. On Texas Tech’s second play from scrimmage, Brooks bursted through the line and ran 67 yards into the end zone untouched, putting Texas Tech ahead 14-13. White broke off a 52-yard run on the next drive, which set up Brooks’ second touchdown of the half.
The Lumberjacks failed to convert a fourth down on their next drive and Texas Tech looked primed to run away with the game, but the momentum swung again.
Shough fumbled and the ball was kicked around before Stephen F. Austin recovered in Red Raider territory. The Lumberjacks punched in a touchdown, but TTU’s Jacob Morgenstern blew up a two-point conversion play that would have tied up the game.
On Texas Tech’s ensuing drive, Ezukanma made another big play. He skied to snag a high throw by Shough, shook off a tackle and turned upfield for a 55-yard gain. He was tackled close to the goal line, but White punctuated the drive with a touchdown.
SFA’s final drive came with the team down six and it should’ve ended far earlier than it did. With the Lumberjacks facing a second-and-30, Hutchings committed a facemask penalty, causing an automatic first down. He redeemed himself later in the drive with his two big plays near the goal line.
The game was far closer than the 32-point spread projected by Las Vegas, but Texas Tech escaped with a win. The Red Raiders will have to play much better to beat Big 12 opponents, but maintained their perfect record in their home opener.