On the third day of Texas Tech-mas, my Red Raiders gave to me...
A second half shutout of the Houston Cougars in the football season opener. Tech and Houston squared off at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX way back in September which, to be honest, feels like an eternity. There was a growing sense of optimism surrounding the football program at that time.
Unfortunately, the optimism would wane very quickly over the course of the first half. Houston took the opening kickoff and drove the field for a touchdown converting several 4th down conversions in the process. Houston then successfully recovered an onside kick and marched down the field for a second touchdown. The Tech offense didn’t have a possession until just over two minutes to play in the first quarter. Tech then fumbled the ball near the goal line and Houston had a chance to go up 21-0. They didn’t but the fans in the stands, myself included, were looking at each other with WTF expressions.
It's still early, and the offense is driving as we've played 15 minutes in Houston pic.twitter.com/tJVhgrPXm9— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 4, 2021
Fast forward to the half time break. Each team had scored a touchdown and Tech is trailing the Houston Cougars by a score of 21-7. Fans were in disbelief, in shock and wondering if this is the team we might be seeing the rest of the season. Sonny Cumbie had come home as the new Offensive Coordinator. On paper, the defensive side of the ball had seen great talent improvements. However, neither of those “improvements” had manifested themselves in the first half. Fortunately for Tech fans, they did show up in the second half.
Tyler Shough ran in for a touchdown to cut Houston’s lead in half. Then Riko Jeffers return the above interception back for a score to even things up. Hope was restored among the Red Raider faithful as high fives were offered and accepted in mass. I’m pretty sure I gave 20 of them after Jeffers tied it up. Houston didn’t even threaten to score a single point in the second half. Of course, fans didn’t know they weren’t going to score. It was a tense second half as the game was still in doubt until Shough hit Xavier White on a short touchdown reception on a great play call by Cumbie. That play gave the Red Raiders a 10 point lead with just over two minutes left in the game. Tahj Brooks put the game out of reach with a 44 yard touchdown run with a minute left on the clock on the second play after Tech recorded their final interception.
And the home of the RAIDERS! pic.twitter.com/H1uN3MAPuB— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 5, 2021
At the end of the day, the Tech defense recorded four interceptions (three of which happened in the second half). Cumbie got his first win as Tech’s OC. Tech football beat Houston for the fourth straight time. Obviously, we now know how the season actually played out and the subsequent coaching change mid-season. Make no mistake, this win was important. Without that second half defensive performance, these Red Raider players would not be looking forward to Tech’s first bowl game appearance since the 2017 season.
We know you're still too hyped up to go to sleep, so take a few minutes and enjoy these highlights! pic.twitter.com/k3R89tDPe2— Texas Tech Football (@TexasTechFB) September 5, 2021
Despite the frustration of the first half, we celebrate the dominance of the second half. The defense we had been hearing about before the season opener showed itself for a half. Red Raider fans were able to celebrate with each other and continue their in-state bragging rights with the Cougars. Or is it Coogars? They confuse me with their spelling at times. Let’s take a moment to remember the first win of the football season.
This is the third of my 12 article series of great moments from Texas Tech during this year. These are in no particular order so it is not intended to be seen as a ranking. I just wanted to treat each moment as its own and give them their due respect. I hope you enjoy this series modeled in the spirit of the 12 days of Christmas.