#12 Red Raiders ruffle Eastern Washington's feathers

Andrew GloverCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2008

                Last season Eastern Washington played a competitive game with Appalachian State, who Michigan last season, In the Football Subdivision Championship playoff quarterfinals losing 38-35. Just as Appalachian State failed to pull another historic upset, #12 Texas Tech made sure early that the Eagles would not pull an upset on them.

                The Eagles upset hopes dimmed on the first play of the game when sophomore linebacker Brian Duncan intercepted Eastern Washington’s Matt Nichols’ first pass of the game. The Red Raiders capitalized two minutes later when senior running back Shannon Woods ran it in from two yards.

                Tech struck again after the Eagles went three-and-out. Senior quarterback Graham Harrell ran it in from a yard out to cap off a 10-play 63-yard drive. The Eagles did gain some life as they blocked freshman kicker Donnie Carona’s extra point.

                The Red Raiders again silenced the Eagles forcing another three-and-out. Harrell drove the Red Raiders 90 yards ending the drive with a four-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Michael Crabtree. Harrell connected with Detron Lewis to complete a two-point conversion to put Tech ahead 21-0 after one quarter.

                The Eagles did not go extinct and put up a fight that surprised the Red Raiders and 49,000 people at Jones AT&T Stadium. After Tech stopped the Eagles on three downs, Eastern Washington’s Matt Johnson intercepted Harrell and returned it 37 yards to the Tech seven. Alexis Alexander got the Eagles on the board with a one-yard touchdown run.

                The Red Raiders responded back on their next drive. Tech started at their own ten after a late hit personal foul on the kickoff. Harrell led the Red Raiders down field again. The senior quarterback connected with senior Eric Morris for an 18-yard pass on third down and 7.The big play of the drive was Harrell connecting with sophomore receiver Lyle Leong on a 32-yard pass. Woods capped off the drive with his second touchdown run.

                The Eagles started to drive on the Tech defense going to the Tech 22. However, junior defense lineman Rajon Henley intercepted Nichols and returned the ball to the Tech 33. The Eagles did not let the turnover harm them as they forced Tech into a three-and-out.

                Nichols led the offense on a seven-play 54-yard-drive from their own 46. The big play of the drive was Nichols connecting with Brynsen Brown on a 20-yard pass. Nichols sneaked the ball in to put Eastern Washington within two scores at 28-14.

                Junior defensive back Jamar Wall returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to Tech’s own 43 yard. After Tech picked up one first down, they turned it over on downs giving the Eagles the ball back at their own 38.

                Nichols started the drive completing two passes of 15 and 11 yards respectively. With a 1st and 10 from the Tech 36, Nichols completed a five-yard pass to Tony Davis. A false start penalty made it second a 10 from the Tech 36, and Nichols connected with Davis on another five-yard pass.

Tech junior defensive end McKinner Dixon sacked Nichols for a loss of seven yards. Eagles’ kicker Felipe Macias hit a 55-yard field goal to end the first half with Eastern Washington just trailing 28-17.

                The second half opened off with Tech driving the ball 70 yards but turning it over on downs at the Eastern Washington four. Tech’s defense held the Eagles to one yard on first down and Nichols threw an incomplete pass on second down. Nichols connected with Aaron Boyce on third and nine to keep the drive alive. The Red Raider defense stopped the Eagles on the next three plays forcing them to punt. However, senior Eric Morris fumbled the punt and the Eagles’ Nicholas Ramos recovered at the Tech 35.

                After an incompletion, Nichols hit Morris on a 14-yard screen pass to the Tech 21. The Red Raider defense stepped up and forced an incompletion on first down, then only allowed three yards on second down. On third down junior defensive end, Brandon Williams sacked Nichols for a loss of 12. The Eagles tried for a field goal to make it a one-possession game but junior linebacker Marlon Williams blocked it.

Harrell would take the Red Raiders down field on a 61-yard drive. Morris caught a 19-yard screen pass, which took Tech to the Eagles 12. Harrell capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass to Edward Britton, which put Tech up 35-17.

The Eagles would get within eleven again. Nichols drove the Eagles 77 yards finishing it off with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Davis. However, that would be the last points the Eagles would get. Tech scored two more touchdowns to win 49-24.

Harrell completed 43 pass out of 58, for 536 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Baron Batch led the team in rushing with five carries for 40 yards and one touchdown. Morris led the team in receiving with nine catches for 164 yards.

Nichols completed 36 passes out of 61 for 335 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Dale Morris led the Eagles in rushing with nine carries for 17 yards. Davis led in receiving with 13 catches for 114 yards and one touchdown.

Texas Tech (1-0) will go on the road and take on the Nevada Wolf Pack (1-0). Nevada beat Grambling State 49-13 in their opening game.