In the first half things started looking like last week again for the No.7 Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Texas A&M Aggies had the ball over twenty minutes in the first half and held a 23-20 lead. However, Tech controlled possession in the second half, outscoring the Aggies 23-2 to win 43-25.
A&M got the ball first and moved the ball fairly well. Quarterback Jerrod Johnson kept finding openings in the middle and hitting receivers on shovel passes. The Red Raider defense would tighten up and the Aggies had to settle for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
Sophomore wide receiver Michael Crabtree was responsible for Tech’s first possession. For the first time this season, Crabtree returned kickoffs and he took his first return 50 yards to the A&M 42. Graham Harrell connected with Crabtree on 3rd-and-4 for six yards. Crabtree caught a five-yard pass and finished the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to give Tech their first lead.
The Aggies were able to answer right back. A&M started with the ball at their own 17. Jerrod Johnson threw three first down passes to Jamie McCoy, Jeff Fuller and Terrence McCoy. However, on the completion to Terrence McCoy, Johnson was hit after his pass and had to sit out the rest of the drive. Stephen McGee came in and played for the first time since A&M’s win against Army three weeks ago. McGee finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Tannehill to put A&M ahead 10-7.
Tech drove back down the field. After a series of short passes, Harrell hit Eric Morris for a 15-yard gain and Detron Lewis for a 16-yard gain. Running back Baron Batch finished the drive at the beginning of the second quarter with a three-yard touchdown run. However, Tech’s kicking problems returned with senior Cory Fowler’s extra point being blocked.
Fowler made his first start at kicker in his career after freshman Donnie Carona struggled through the first six games. Fowler went four-for-six on extra points with two being blocked. Fowler also made a 25-yard field goal in the third quarter.
The Tech defense could not stop the Aggies again on their next possession. Johnson returned to the game and A&M started at their own 20. On second down and 10, Johnson found Tannehill open for a 44-yard gain to the Tech 15. However, the Tech defense once again held the Aggies to a field goal to result in the score being tied at 13.
Crabtree returned the kickoff to the Tech 19, came up limping because of his right ankle, and went to the sidelines afterwards. On Tech’s first play from scrimmage Harrell threw his first interception in 182 pass attempts to Trent Hunter, who returned it to the Tech 34 and gained extra yards on a personal foul penalty against the Red Raiders.
Even with the ball at the Tech 15, A&M could not get seven. After allowing one first down, the Red Raiders held the Aggies inside the Tech four, and Randy Bullock kicked his third field goal to put A&M ahead 16-13.
Crabtree would return to the game later on, but was bothered again by the ankle limiting him to eight receptions for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Nevertheless, Crabtree’s injury did not stop Tech’s passing game. Four receivers had over 70 yards receiving and nine different players caught passes. Lewis led in receptions with nine and Tramain Swindall led in yards with 101.
In spite of two interceptions, Harrell completed 44 passes out of 56 for 450 yards and three touchdowns. Harrell also ran for two touchdowns including one on a fake handoff on Tech’s last possession.
Tech would get the lead back. Tech started on their own 20 and after an incompletion, Harrell completed a pass to Lewis for 13 yards. Morris caught a four-yard pass and Tech got 15 more on a facemask penalty against A&M. Batch finished off the drive with his second touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Harrell.
The Tech defense forced A&M into a three-and-out. However, the Red Raiders could not take advantage. Swindall caught a 37-yard pass but fumbled on his way down and Jordan Pugh of A&M recovered.
A&M took advantage of the turnover quickly. Johnson found Tannehill again for a 40-yard pass that gave the Aggies the ball at the Tech 15. Mike Goodson would give A&M the 23-20 lead with a one-yard touchdown run.
That lead would be the Aggies last. The Red Raiders immediately drove down field on their first possession of the second half. Harrell hit his favorite target Crabtree frequently on the drive as they connected for four passes for 25 yards and a three-yard touchdown that put the Red Raiders ahead for good.
After the Red Raiders defense allowed 274 yards in the first half. They would limit A&M to only 32 yards of offense in the second, and not allow their offense to score. The Aggies only points in the second half came off a blocked extra point that Arkeith Brown returned 97 yards.
The Tech offense would get two more fourth quarter touchdowns on a pair of one-yard runs by Harrell. The win would be Tech’s fourth straight over A&M and 11 of the last 14. Tech head coach Mike Leach is 7-2 against A&M.
The Red Raiders will travel to Lawrence next week to play the Kansas Jayhawks who lost 45-31 to the No.4 Oklahoma Sooners.