Harrell has 5 TDs in Texas Tech’s win over A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP)—Texas Tech coach Mike Leach wasn’t worried when the Red Raiders trailed at the half for the first time this season against Texas A&M on Saturday.
There was no fiery tirade in the locker room, no panic-button revamping of the entire game plan. Leach simply told his team to stay as calm as he was, and that’s all it took.
Graham Harrell threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more and No. 7 Texas Tech beat Texas A&M 43-25 on Saturday, giving the Red Raiders their best start in 32 years.
Harrell completed 44 of 56 passes for 450 yards as the Red Raiders moved to 7-0—3-0 in the Big 12—after beating A&M for the seventh time in eight meetings.
Texas Tech was down 23-20 at the break, after committing two turnovers and eight penalties and giving up 274 yards in the first half. Tech scored on four of six possessions after halftime and held A&M to 32 yards and five first downs.
“Just relax,” Leach said he told his players. “Don’t get frustrated. We don’t want to have any bad body language out there. Expect good things to happen, and they will. You knew it couldn’t be as bad as the first half.”
Michael Crabtree caught two touchdowns and Baron Batch rushed for 87 yards and another score for the Red Raiders, who now begin the defining stretch of the season. Their next four opponents are all ranked in this week’s Top 25: Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
But the Red Raiders didn’t leave Kyle Field without their unorthodox coach creating a stir.
Texas Tech led 36-25 with 24 seconds left when Leach called time out and asked referees to review a run by Shannon Woods to the 1-yard line. The Red Raiders had to run one more play or take a penalty, and Harrell scored a meaningless touchdown on the next snap.
Leach said he meant no disrespect to the Aggies—he just wanted Woods to score a touchdown.
“Shannon Woods is one of my favorite running backs in the whole world,” Leach said. “As a matter of fact, I probably like Shannon Woods more than any 10 players on any other team.
“My only disappointment is Graham snatched it away from him,” Leach said. “I wanted Shannon to score. I’m happy we scored. I wish Shannon would’ve got it.”
Jerrod Johnson completed 26 of 39 passes for 283 yards for the Aggies (2-5, 0-3 Big 12), who’ve dropped four of five home games.
“It’s always upsetting to lose at home, especially to Tech,” Johnson said. “We definitely had a really good shot to win the game.”
Randy Bullock kicked three field goals for A&M, including an early 49-yarder that put them up 3-0. Crabtree then ran back his first career kickoff return 50 yards to the Texas A&M 42. He caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Harrell six plays later.
Johnson hurt his right knee after leading the Aggies to the Texas Tech 18. Johnson took a late hit from Tech defensive end Brandon Williams after completing a pass to Terrence McCoy. Johnson fell backward over another defender. After trainers checked on him, Johnson walked off the field on his own.
Senior quarterback Stephen McGee, who sat out the last two games with a sprained shoulder, came in and threw a short touchdown pass to Ryan Tannehill. McGee beat out Johnson for the starting job in the preseason.
While Johnson pedaled on a stationary bike, Batch finished a Texas Tech drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. A&M’s Lucas Patterson blocked Donnie Carona’s extra-point kick.
Johnson returned for the next series and got up limping after another hard hit by Williams. But Johnson kept the Aggies on the move, finding Tannehill for a 44-yard gain. Bullock kicked a 28-yard field goal with 9:48 left in the half to tie the game at 13-all.
Crabtree twisted his left ankle on the kickoff and hobbled off the field. Harrell overthrew a receiver and A&M safety Trent Hunter intercepted. Harrell had thrown only three interceptions in 262 attempts coming into the game.
“We felt like we played decent in the first half,” Harrell said. “We only stopped ourselves.”
Bullock kicked another field goal with 6:29 left in the half to put A&M ahead 16-13. Crabtree returned for Texas Tech’s next possession, which ended on Harrell’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Batch.
A holding penalty wiped out a 78-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Jeff Fuller and A&M punted with just over 2 minutes left before halftime.
Tremain Swindall caught a 37-yard pass from Harrell, then fumbled near midfield. Tannehill made a diving catch for a 40-yard gain on the next play and Mike Goodson’s 1-yard touchdown run put the Aggies ahead 23-20 with 23 seconds left before the break.
“Everything went wrong that could in the first half,” Leach said.
Harrell went 5-for-6 on the Red Raiders’ first drive out of halftime and Crabtree caught a 3-yard TD pass to put Texas Tech in front for good.
Cory Fowler’s 25-yard field goal with 2:44 left in the third quarter made it 30-23. The Red Raiders have reached 30 points in 11 consecutive games.
Texas Tech punted for the first time early in the fourth quarter, but the Aggies couldn’t get a first down.
Harrell went 8-for-8 on Tech’s next drive and scored on a 1-yard sneak with 7 minutes left. A&M defensive lineman Tony Jerod-Eddy blocked Fowler’s extra-point kick and Arkeith Brown returned it for two points to cut Tech’s lead to 36-25.