Where to begin. Texas Tech beat Minnesota, 44-41 in OT, at the Insight Bowl, Tempe, Arizona. That was the most exciting game I have ever watched, in the history of ever. I couldn't be more proud of my, strike that, our Red Raiders.
Tech started out shaky in the first drive as we turned the ball over on downs after going for it on 4th and 1 from our own 45 yard line. As we've seen most of the season, the line and Harrell are not good at blowing defenders off the line an wasn't able to muster a 1 yard push. Minnesota turned around and it was the Cupito and Simmons show as reserve TE, Jack Simmons, connected for 37 yards and a touchdown on the drive. Simmons was wide open in the endzone and I believe that McBath was in the vacinity.
On Tech's second drive of the game, Harrell dropped back to pass on 2nd down, and LB Mike Sherels drops back in coverage and intercepts Harrell's pass, Minnesota recovers the ball and quickly drives down the field for their 2nd score of the night. RB Amir Pinnix accounted for 19 yards and a touchdown in this drive.
Tech's next drive was solid as it seemed that Harrell and the offense finally got their feet under them and started to move the ball from their own 20 to Minnesota's 8 yard line where Harrell was sacked and Minnesota recovers. At this point in the game I start to slump in my chair and pray that the defense can make a stand, get the ball back on downs or a punt and get a score. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
Cupito, Simmons and Pinnix marched down the field quickly and J. Thomas, a backup running back scored from the 1 to make the score, 21-0 Minnesota.
Tech's fourth drive was even less inspiring as the Raiders was forced to punt after 7 plays and 14 yards, however, I believe that it did allow punter, Alex Reyes to break the Texas Tech record for punting average in a season.
Minnesota was now pinned at their own 2 yard line, Cupito drops back to pass into the flat and Antonio Huffman makes a great break on the ball, interception at the Minnesota 15. Huffman's short run resulted in a fumble as Pinnix nailed Huffman and the ball squirted out into the endzone where Minnesota recovered. That's right, an interception, a fumble, Minnesota recovers and they are no longer backed up in their own endzone. Pinnix accounts for 60 of the 80 yards and Cupito completes a 14 yard pass to Cupito for the touchdown. After that would be interception and the thought of a sure 7 points for Huffman and the Raiders, I became simply indifferent about the game. The prevailing thought for me was that Tech just didn't show up, and the defense could not contain Pinnix or Cupito or anyone else on the offensive side of the ball.
With approximately 7 minutes left in the second quarter Tech took over for the 5th time. Woods, Harrell, and Filani would not be stopped (by the way, at this point where I'm starting to write the recap, I'm actually getting excited) as Woods capped off a 77 yard play with a 1 yard touchdown. Woods was unbelievable last night. I hope that this is an indication that Woods will get more carries last year. He ran really hard, and he would not be denied on a number of occasions.
Minnesota simply ignored that Tech may have had some momentum as they once again marched down the field, led by Pinnix and Jack Simmons again and Cupito and WR Payne connected for a 3 yard touchdown to bring the score 35-7. With only 0:32 seconds left in the 1st half, Tech sputtered and the half was over.
On the opening drive, Minnesota was only able to muster a field goal despite the fact they were on the Tech 4, 1st and goal. Tech's next drive changed the complexion of the game. Harrell completes a 20 yard pass to Todd Walker and then, Harrell completes a picture perfect 43 yard pass to Joel Filani. That touchdown catch is still being replayed in my head, despite the fact that the NFL Network camera crew couldn't seem to keep their camera on the ball. Nevertheless, this is where the tide changed, Tech scored quckly, had momentum and there was a glimmer of hope. I've been saying all year that this offense operates so much better when Tech is able to get behind the zone defense by stretching the field. Minnesota had been dropping 8 defenders all night and this one broke it open. Despite the fact there were 2 defenders in the area Filani was able to split them and make a tremendous catch.
Minnesota's next drive, started in the same fashion as most of the previous drives, but Minnesota and Glen Mason got a little pass happy with 3 straight pass plays and a Dek Blake sack, perhaps the defensive corrallary to Filani's touchdown, forced Minnesota to turn the ball over on downs and Minnesota punted teh ball away. Harrell took control and his first complete pass of this drive was to L.A. Reed who looks like he will be a complete beast next year. Woods and Harrell kept Minnesota off balance and the 1st play of the 4th quarter resulted in a 8 yard Robert Johnson touchdown catch.
Minnesota stuggled early in their next drive, but a long completion to Decker for 26 yards helped. Minnesota is now at the Tech 31 yard line and after a couple of Pinnix runs, Minnesota was facing 4th and 7. Minnesota doesn't have a kicker who Mason had confidence to make the field goal and redshirt sophomore Daniel Charbonnet was untouched as he sacked Cupito. Harrell completed 4 pass playes of 10 yards of more to Walker, Morris, and Johnson, and Harrell scored from 1 yard and Tech is within 10.
Dawson came up huge on the next Minnesota drive as he stopped Pinnix for a one yard loss on 2nd down and Cupito couldn't complete a pass for the 1st down. Minnesota punted to Amendola and he returned the ball for 33 yards to the Tech 44. This punt return was big, as it shortened the field and Harrell then was able to disect the Minnesota defense, again. Minnesota's Dominic Jones committed a horrible pass interference on Johnson and where Tech faced 3rd and goal, they now were at 1st and goal at the Minnesota 2 and Woods punched in the touchdown bringing Tech within 3, 35-38.
Tech decided to attempt an onside kick, which failed and Minnesota recovered at the 50. Honestly, I was shocked that Leach, with 2:39 left in the game, thought that a onside kick was the way to go here. I think I would have simply kicked it away, the defense was playing lights out, and momentum had obviously swung in Tech's direction. But I am not the gambler, and Leach is. Minnesota attempted two rushes by Pinnix which resulted in a gain of three (Dawson) and no gain (Stratton), facing 3rd and 7, Cupito drops back to pass, and junior linebacker, Paul Williams, sacks Cupito for a 8 yard loss. Huge play, absolutely huge.
After a false start penalty, Tech is at their own 7 yard line with about a minute left in the game. Harrell completes a pass to Johnson, who despite being near the middle of the field, was strong enough to shake a at least two tacklers and get out of bounds. Another really big play that allowed Tech to get the 1st down and the clock isn't ticking. Harrell completes another beauty to Britton and a couple of more passes to Filani and Johnson, and Trlica is now facing a 52 yard field goal to tie the game. Trlica's kick was not just good, it was right down the middle with a little extra to boot. The field goal of his life. Time expired and Tech was now, with all of the momentum in the world, was looking at overtime.
Tech wins the toss and decides to defer and allow Minnesota to have the ball first in overtime. Between Cupito and Pinnix, Minnesota is only able to muster 10 yards and Monroe kicks in a 32 yard field goal. Tech, who had not led all day, gets the ball at the and Harrell completes two passes to Filani, for 12 and 6. Minnesota commits a horrible penalty at their own 7, Davis is called for encroachment and he's the only player across the line of scrimmage, which now gives Tech, 2nd and 1 from the Minnesota 4, Woods rushes for 1 yard, and on the next play, Woods plows through the Minnesota line for a 3 yard touchdown, capping the greatest comeback in NCAA bowl history, Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41.
I hope to look at the film again tomorrow. Today I celebrate. Let's do some preliminary grades with commentary:
|Quarterback||B+||Harrell was really shaky in the 1st half; but was special in the 2nd half|
|Running Back||A||Woods ran hard all day long; he was my offensive MVP|
|Wide Recivers||B+||I remember only a couple of dropped balls; Filani; Johnson; and the Walkers were huge|
|Offensive Line||B+||Only 2 sacks and Woods rushed for 100+|
|Defensive Line||C||A sieve 1st half; Pinnix rushed for 142 in 1st half and 44 in the 2nd|
|Linebackers||C-||It seems like they only make tackles down the field Session and Williams were good|
|Secondary||D||Too many long pass plays down the middle of the field|
|Special Teams||A||Trlica had one opportunity and he nailed it|
|Coaching||A||I questioned onside kick; but Leach orchestrated the greatest comeback in Tech history|
Before I start linking game articles, let me just say that the post game interview with Coach Leach was really something to love. There is no question that Leach cares about these kids, he is invested in them emotionally, and he truly loves them and he loves his job. In my short life, I have never seen a coach on the verge of tears after an incredible victory, and it was great to see Leach wear his emotions on his sleeve. This made me proud to be a Red Raider.
LAJ's Don Williams game article is here. Leach had this to say about the comeback:
Don also has this notebook on the game.
Let me give the Dallas Morning News a hard time here. I subscribe to the RSS feed for their College Blog and they would have the Tech team reporter update the blog during most of the games this year. I don't know if their technology wasn't working or they just decided not to send MacMahon, who's been covering Tech all year, to the game, but the lack of coverage is ridiculous. I hate the way that Tech is treated like a 2nd class citizen by the DMN, I just don't get it. I'll post their articles here and here, reluctantly. I'd love to know what the hell is going on with that newspaper, but I get the idea that probably most of their writers don't know.