No. 19 texas 41, texas tech 34 Horns snatch win from jaws of meltdown
LUBBOCK — A meltdown couldn’t be avoided. In fact, it already had happened and Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger had no time to dwell on the disappearance of his team’s 17-point second-half lead.
The sophomore conducted a smooth two-minute drill. He took what was there, gradually marching Texas into field-goal range for a potential game-winner.
But on a frigid night with sporadic gusts, he didn’t want to leave anything to chance. The safest bet, as it had been all night, was to let Lil’Jordan Humphrey make a play.
That’s exactly what the junior receiver did. Humphrey rose above Texas Tech defensive back Demarcus Fields, snatched Ehlinger’s jump ball and dragged the defender across the goal line, the perfect topping to a manic finish.
No. 19 Texas (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) has a few bouts of lunacy to thank for its 41-34 victory over Tech (5-5, 3-4) on Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium.
First, it was Tech quarterback Jett Duffey who lost his mind.
With the Red Raiders creeping toward the goal line, just 3 yards away from seizing a 14-0 lead over Texas, Duffey tried to throw the ball away before he was swallowed by a pack of Longhorns. Problem was his ball floated meekly toward the sideline, allowing UT cornerback Davante Davis to bound over for the interception.
Cameron Dicker capped UT’s ensuing drive with a career-long 52-yard field goal. It was a pivotal, painful - for Tech and its sold-out crowd - swing.
The next to succumb to temporary madness was Tech defensive back Desmon Smith.
His 15-yard facemask penalty on Jerrod Heard - both were well away from the ball - erased two sacks on Ehlinger and gifted Texas a fresh set of downs. Ehlinger capitalized, squeezing a ball through tight coverage into the hands of Humphrey for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury rounded out a trifecta of first-half follies.
For some inexplicable reason, he felt compelled to leave his offense out on fourth-and-1 from Tech’ own 34-yard line. Duffey tried to burrow through the Texas front, but he was enveloped by defensive end Charles Omenihu and several others for no gain.
Texas turned that into points, too.
Ehlinger connected with Humphrey for a 19-yard gain. Tailback Keontay Ingram ran in nearly unscathed for a 2-yard touchdown a few plays later.
For Tech, miscues kept mounting as the deficit kept rising.
Whatever hope Texas let creep into the Tech locker room after it allowed a last-second field goal was erased immediately.
UT took the second half’s opening kick and got right back to wearing down Tech’s defense.
Ehlinger completed passes of 21 yards to Humphrey, 17 yards to receiver Devin Duvernay, and 12 yards to receiver Jerrod Heard on a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Texas failed on its first three goal-to-go tries from the 1-yard line. On fourth down, Ehlinger faked a handoff to tailback Daniel Young, then threw a strike to Duvernay in the back corner of the end zone to build a 24-10 lead.
Duffey wasn’t done committing blunders.
Twice he fumbled near the red zone, sucking life out of both his team and a stadium that had started leaking fans at a Titanic-like rate.
With Tech threatening on its first drive of the half, cornerback Davante Davis went full extension to knock loose the ball Duffey was so haphazardly holding as he wove through a sea of white jerseys. Davis also recovered, and Texas followed with a 46-yard field goal.
Duffey again had Tech rolling down the field when he got the ball back. And Texas again made him pay for being too loose with the ball.
At the end of a dash from the pocket, cornerback Kris Boyd converged on Duffey and ripped the ball from his hands before he tumbled to the ground. He spiked the ball near the Tech sideline, triggering a personal foul penalty and making a statement about how this game would end.
Ehlinger added a 39-yard touchdown pass to Duvernay in the fourth quarter. Duffey responded with a 57-yard scoring strike to Antoine Wesley and 2-yard touchdown pass to wideout T.J. Vasher, slicing UT’s lead to 34-27 with under five minutes remaining.
Duffey nearly make amends for all the turnovers with a 9-yard game-tying touchdown pass to Wesley.
Even without second-leading receiver Collin Johnson (knee) out, Ehlinger threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns while setting a Big 12 record for consecutive passes without an interception (280). Humphrey accounted for 159 of those yards. Duvernay finished with 66 yards and a pair of scores.
Texas allowed 500-plus yards - a season-worst 595, in fact - for the third straight week and fourth time in five games. But it played mistake-free football and exploited the fact that Tech didn’t.
That was the difference. That was the key to Texas snapping a two-game losing streak and remaining in the hunt for a conference title with 22nd-ranked Iowa State (6-3, 5-2) coming to Austin next weekend.