I wanted to do something like this for the end of the 2013-2014 school year, but now seems like a good time to take a look at the top plays in the past year. We saw our basketball team provide excitement for the first time in years, our baseball team make the CWS for the first time in program history and our football team went through a rebuilding year on the gridiron. And in all those games, we saw some great plays made by our Red Raiders, ones that made us cheer, scream or drop our jaw in awe. Here are some of those plays, the best Red Raider plays in 2014:
#10: Devon Conley bunts safely to put Tech up 1-0 in the Regional Final
After a close loss to Miami (which many Red Raiders fan thought we should've won), Texas Tech took the field to face Miami again in the Regional final, a winner takes all game. Miami and Tech battled it out early on, exchanging outs for out, maintaining a 0-0 lead heading into the 7th inning. After Ryan Long got "hit by a pitch" and Tim Proudfoot singled, Devon Conley laid down a good bunt, forcing Miami Catcher Garrnett Kennedy to make a play on the ball. The speed on Conley forced Kennedy to rush the throw, overthrowing the 1st basemen and allowing Ryan Long to cruise into home plate and the runners to advance an extra base. Tech would win 4-0 and get to it's first Super Regional.
#9: Devin Lauderdale evades defenders on the way to his first collegiate Touchdown
After a disappointing loss on the road to Kansas State, Texas Tech headed back home to face West Virginia. However, a win wasn't the only thing on the line. Tech had several top recruits in for the game, including Tyron Johnson, Carlos Strickland, Christian Taylor and plenty more. Davis Webb was leading the Red Raiders down the field in the first quarter. On 2nd and 10 on the 34 yard line, Devin Lauderdale swept right and Webb tossed the ball to him. He found a hole in the defense, bursted through the hole, and spun away from a tackle in route to his first touchdown in a Texas Tech uniform. It put the Red Raiders up 7-3 and gave Devin Lauderdale his first of many great plays on the year.
#8: Dylan Cantrell makes a sick one-handed grab in Stillwater
In the 1st Big 12 game of the year, the Red Raiders traveled to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State. After a TD on the opening drive and then a Touchdown several minutes later by Oklahoma State, Texas Tech started driving down the field again trying to score another TD. On 1st and 10 on Tech's own 46, Davis Webb took the snap and lobbed it up to Cantrell. It was a little behind Dylan, but he was able to lean back, stretch out his hand, and haul in the one handed catch. Simply amazing. It would make the SportsCenter Top 10 plays, at one point being #1 (before another play took it's place). Kind of hard to leave a Top 10 play of the list.
#7: Justin Gray puts back a dunk over 3 defenders in a scrimmage
Not many people saw this because it was scrimmage and wasn't on TV (however, the dunk was later included in a promo), but it was an amazing dunk. Tech was down by a roughly 10 points to Texas A&M Commerce and trying to get back in the game. Robert Turner was driving in the paint and trying to score on a lay-up to get the Red Raiders within 7. Turner missed the lay-up, but one of the most important things to do when getting the rebound is boxing out. Nobody for the Lions did so. Justin Gray, running from the 3-point line, goes flying in out of no where, grabs the ball over three defenders, and throws down a two-handed jam on them. Everyone in crowd roar in excitement over the dunk. It got everyone pumped it for not only the game but the 2014-2015 season. I was a little excited about the dunk too:
Justin Gray just dunked over 3 people on a put back dunk!!! They called a foul (I don't know why) but I don't even care. That was amazing!!!— MikeŦŦU (@Michael_LaB) November 9, 2014
I think Justin Gray will be the best player in the 2015 class, so it was cool seeing him throw down that dunk in his first game. I expect plenty of plays like this in his career
#6: DeVaugntah Williams makes a diving game-winning lay-up to beat Auburn
The season is still young, but we've seen some great plays by the Red Raiders so far, including a game-winning lay-up against a SEC school. Texas Tech and Auburn were struggling to score points throughout the game, as Auburn lead 44-42 late in the 2nd half. After Williams made two free throws, Gotcher blocked Auburn's shot on the other end of the court and the Red Raiders had the ball with 9 seconds left. Tubby Smith called a timeout, and during the timeout, decided to give the ball to Williams because he had the hot hand. When play resumed, Williams took the ball, rolled right, taking Zach Smith's man. With 5 seconds left, Williams started to drive, spun away from a defender, and floated the ball in the basket for the 2-point lead with 2 seconds left. Auburn would miss a half-court and the Red Raiders would get their first win over an SEC team since 2007. That was Williams lone FG of the game, and it was a huge one.
#5: Dylan Cantrell catches a pass over defender for a 1st down
We head back to the West Virginia game for another spectacular play by Dylan Cantrell. Tech was up 21-13 in the 3rd quarter, driving down the field and trying to go up 2 possessions on the Mountaineers. It was 3rd and 1 on the 19 yard line, Davis Webb took the snap and threw it up for Dylan Cantrell. The only problem with that was that there was a defender all over Cantrell. However, it ended up not being a problem. He reaches over the defender, grabs the ball, and falls down in bounds for the 1st down. The crowd (and announcers) were astonished by the play. Now some of y'all may think the Oklahoma State play was better (it was #2 on SC Top 10), but I personally like this one better. This one might've been higher if it was on Thursday instead on Saturday. Still, one hell of a play by Cantrell.
#4: Robert Turner steals the ball from Oklahoma State to seal a win over a Top 25 team
The best game last basketball season was probably the game against Oklahoma State, when the 19th ranked Cowboys came into the USA trying to pull out a road victory. It was close throughout the game, with several lead changes and dramatic moments. Over the last 5 mins, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech were exchanging basket for basket, keeping the score close until the end. With Tech up 2 with 14 seconds left, Le'Bryan Nash drove into the paint, being trapped by Jamal Williams and Kader Tapsoba. Nash tried to roll the ball out to his teammate, but Robert Turner was there to steal the ball and start a fast break. It was the loudest I have ever heard it at the USA. By far. Turner passed it Jaye Crockett, who would be fouled by Smart (that's when the whole Marcus Smart incident happened). He would get a Technical Foul, Tech would make 2 free throws to go up two possessions, and the Red Raiders would hold on to win 65-61 over Oklahoma State. It was lead to several close games for the Red Raiders that would include a late second loss to Kansas and a win over rival Texas.
#3: Bradley Marquez catches a long ball from Patrick Mahomes on his last play
After being down by 4 possessions in the 3rd quarter, Patrick Mahomes and company scored 3 touchdowns to get in reach of the Bears. Devin Lauderdale, DeAndre Washington and Bradley Marquez would score touchdowns and the defense would hold Bears offense to only 3 points in that stretch. With only a few minutes to go, Patrick Mahomes would lead his team down the field, completing passes and working his way up to midfield. Then, on 3rd and 13 on the 40 yard line, Mahomes got the snap and moved around a little before firing a deep ball to covered Marquez down field. The defensive back was interfering with Marquez, but that didn't matter. Bradley Marquez was able to make a move on the defender and catch the ball while falling back, scoring a touchdown to cut the lead to 2 points. What a way to end for college career. Fitting how his first and last plays were touchdowns. Unfortunately Tech wouldn't convert on the 2-point conversation, but it showed Tech fans what this team was capable of.
#2: Zach Davis steals Home Plate to tie the Longhorns in the 9th
Most of y'all didn't see this one, but it was one hell of a play. The series was tied 1-1 heading into the final day. Texas Tech had struggled all game long, trailing 2-0 headed into the final inning. Devon Conley would score in the inning off an Alec Humphreys single, and Zach Davis would advance to 2nd. Hunter Redman would then ground out to 3rd for the 2nd out of the inning, advancing Davis to 3rd and Humprheys to 2nd. Tim Proudfoot then came up to bat, taking a ball and two strikes. Then, on the 4th pitch, Zach Davis would do the boldest play a baseball player could do; attempt to steal home plate. He got a great lead from 3rd base and was able to slide into home plate, tying the score at one. The crowd went berserk, as everyone was in shock over what had just happened. It sounded like something you would hear after a Touchdown, not a run scored at a baseball game. Not only did Davis steal home plate, he did so with two outs and the game on the line. If he had gotten caught, the inning would've ended the game would've ended with the Longhorns on top. Instead, Davis was successful and sent the game extra inning. Unfortunately the Red Raiders lost, but it left the crowd with one of the most memorable plays of the year.
#1: Devon Conley making diving catch to save Texas Tech's College World Series hopes.
For the first time in program history, the Red Raiders went to the Super Regional. They took care of the College of Charleston in Game 1 1-0 and had a 1-0 lead in Game 2 after an Adam Kirsch double hit home Tyler Neslony from 1st base. However, Tech got in trouble in the 7th inning. College of Charleston got on base after a single, and advanced to 2nd on a Sacrifice to the pitcher. Then Dominic Moreno came into the game. He took care of the 1st batter, forcing a groundout to himself. The next batter, however, hit a blooper into shallow CF. By the way it was coming off the bat, it looked as if the ball would drop and the runner from 2nd would come in to tie the score. Devon Conley wasn't going to allow that to happen. Out of no where, he comes flying in, stretches out, and makes one of the best catches in all of college baseball that season. It was good enough to be #8 on SportCenter Top 10 the next day. The crowd let out a roar as the Red Raiders escaped the inning with a 1-0 lead. They would go on to win 1-0 and claim their first Super Regional title and ticket to their first College World Series.
What is your opinion of my list? Do you think another play should've made it? Express your opinions below