LUBBOCK, Texas — Tyler Shough finally delivered the performance Texas Tech fans had been waiting for in a 54-21 Red Raider win over Florida International Saturday.
Shough had been solid against Houston and shaky against Stephen F. Austin, but he was outstanding Saturday.
The Oregon transfer completed 26 of 35 passes for 399 yards and added four touchdowns in the triumph. He moved the ball down the field clinically and hurled accurate deep balls for major yardage.
His excellent performance helped the Red Raiders attain a 3-0 start for the first time since 2017 on the night they inducted Elmer Tarbox and Michael Crabtree into their Ring of Honor.
Perhaps Shough’s most impressive throw of the day was a 52-yard rainbow that Kaylon Geiger hauled in along the sideline. He also placed one in the back of the end zone that Trey Cleveland grabbed with a defender draped all over him for a 28-yard touchdown.
That was one of three touchdowns that Shough tossed in the first half. The other two were easy pitches and catches to Travis Koontz.
The involvement of players like Geiger, Cleveland and Koontz was critical in balancing an offense that had relied heavily on one player through the first two games of the season.
Coming into Saturday, Erik Ezukanma had accounted for 322 of the team’s 405 receiving yards. Saturday, Ezukanma had 28 yards. His teammates totaled 379, including a 121-yard effort from Geiger.
Three of Shough’s touchdowns went to tight ends. Koontz caught the first two and true freshman Mason Tharp came open for a 25-yard score in the third quarter.
Texas Tech’s rushing attack also got a boost with the return of SaRodorick Thompson. Thompson, Texas Tech’s presumed starting running back heading into the season, missed the first two games with a shoulder injury.
He toted the ball just four times Saturday, but his first carry of the season was a one-yard touchdown run that put Texas Tech ahead 21-14 in the second quarter.
While the final score was lopsided, for the third straight week it took some time for Texas Tech to get going.
The Red Raiders punted on each of their first two drives and allowed an FIU touchdown on its second drive of the game. The Panthers had a golden opportunity to extend their lead to double digits in the first quarter. Red Raider punt returner Adrian Frye attempted to scoop up a bouncing punt, but bobbled it, allowing FIU to recover the ball and take over in Texas Tech territory.
On the next play, TTU safety Waters stepped in front of FIU quarterback Max Bortenschlager’s pass and returned an interception 72 yards for a game-tying touchdown.
FIU scored again with 10:51 remaining in the second quarter when running back EJ Wilson Jr. slipped free on a wheel route, juked safety Reggie Pearson and went 69 yards for a touchdown, tying the game at 14.
After that, Texas Tech scored 24 straight points. While Shough was dealing, the Red Raider defense held firm. The Panthers went three-and-out on three straight drives before they got back in the end zone late in the third quarter.
The defense was stout against the run and the pass. It held FIU star running back D’Vonte Price under four yards per carry and Bortenschlager completed less than half of his passes.
The Red Raiders survived a scare from Stephen F. Austin last weekend, but turned in a complete performance to trounce an inferior opponent Saturday.