LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech’s game against Iowa State Saturday had just about everything you could think of.
There was a freshman quarterback dazzling in his first career start, a 21-point comeback, multiple controversial calls, and finally, an improbable, game-winning, 62-yard field goal by kicker Jonathan Garibay to secure a 41-38 win for the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech improved to 6-4 on the season with the wild victory. The Red Raiders are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2017.
Garibay’s field goal was the longest in Texas Tech history by five yards. It was the longest of his career by 14.
Long before Garibay’s heroics, Saturday’s game was the Donovan Smith Show.
Henry Colombi missed the contest with an illness and Tyler Shough was still recovering from his broken collarbone, thrusting Smith into the starting role. He did not disappoint.
The Wolfforth Frenship product threw for 322 yards and three touchdowns, all of which came in the first half. He burned the Cyclones with both his arms and his legs, avoiding pressure and throwing lasers all over the field.
Smith’s third touchdown of the game made the score 28-7 in the second quarter. The Red Raiders were moving the ball clinically and shutting down Iowa State’s high-powered offense.
In the second half, that flipped. With the help of several controversial calls going in their favor, the Cyclones scored three second-half touchdowns and tied the game on a field goal with a minute left.
But Smith put one last drive together at the end of the game, completing four passes to set up Garibay’s game-winning, record-breaking kick.
Smith was excellent from his first throw of the game. Facing a 3rd-and-6, he rolled to his right and fired across his body to an open Myles Price in the middle of the field. Price turned upfield and went down the sideline for a 36-yard gain.
On Smith’s second throw of the game, he showed he could make the routine plays in addition to the spectacular ones. He threw a perfectly-timed rope to Erik Ezukanma on the sideline for another 12 yards. After an 8-yard Smith scamper, Tahj Brooks capped the drive off with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Smith played with plenty of confidence, which was particularly on display on his first touchdown of the game. Sonny Cumbie kept the offense on the field for a 4th-and-6; instead of a safe throw to the sticks, Smith hurled the ball down the field to an open Price, who grabbed it and tumbled into the end zone.
Price was Smith’s favorite target Saturday, catching nine passes for 175 yards. The sophomore roasted defensive backs in the open field and displayed impressive awareness when he ran from the middle of the field to the sideline to stop the clock and set up a Garibay field goal before halftime. That made the score 31-14.
Smith threw three total touchdowns before halftime. Two of them went to Ezukanma. Both were high throws to the right sideline that the 6-foot-3 Ezukanma hauled in with ease.
Texas Tech’s defense matched Smith’s brilliant play in the first half, stifling Iowa State’s star running back Breece Hall and holding the Cyclone pass game in check. Colin Schooler picked off ISU quarterback Brock Purdy, which set up Ezukanma’s first touchdown.
The Red Raider defensive line frequented ISU’s backfield on run plays, holding Hall to one yard or less on seven of his first 11 carries.
In the second half, Iowa State got going on both ends. The Cyclone defense stopped Texas Tech on fourth down twice in the third quarter, tackling Smith just short of the sticks on a run play and sacking him on 4th-and-3. The Red Raiders were well within Garibay’s range on both plays, but Cumbie opted to take the aggressive approach both times.
On the other side of the ball, Purdy found a rhythm. He has two of the best pass-catchers in the Big 12 at his disposal in tight end Charlie Kolar and wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson, and he used both of them to conduct three second-half touchdown drives. Kolar, who caught two touchdowns last times the Cyclones were in Lubbock, caught both third-quarter touchdowns Saturday. The second score cut Texas Tech’s lead to 31-28.
Two of those drives were nearly halted by interceptions, but twice the referees ruled in favor of Iowa State. Purdy threw a ball down the sideline to Kolar in the third quarter that Kolar and Red Raider safety Eric Monroe both got their hands on and grappled for. The referees ruled that Kolar came down with the catch.
Two series later, Purdy threw a pass that whizzed past Kolar and went into safety Dadrion Taylor-Demerson’s arms. The play was originally ruled an interception, but after a review referees said the ball bounced. The Red Raider crowd was unhappy with the call. Shortly after, Texas Tech asked fans to evacuate the student sections.
Smith and the Tech offense answered Iowa State’s second touchdown drive of the half with one of their own. On 3rd-and-10, Smith lofted a high pass down the sideline to Price, who held on for the catch after taking a wicked hit. The 28-yard gain set up a SaRodorick Thompson touchdown, providing a 10-point cushion for the Red Raiders.
Iowa State scored points on each of its final four drives, but the Red Raider defense made one critical stand late. Trailing 38-35, the Cyclones drove into the red zone with a chance to go ahead, but Texas Tech got off the field and forced a field goal.
Minutes later, Texas Tech fans were storming the field and tearing down the goal posts, celebrating perhaps the most memorable Red Raider win since Michael Crabtree’s catch against Texas in 2008.