The Henry Colombi era got off on the right foot for Texas Tech on Saturday night as the Red Raiders picked up their first Big 12 win with a 34-27 victory over West Virginia.
Last week, head coach Matt Wells announced that the Utah State transfer Colombi would be replacing three-year starter Alan Bowman at quarterback for the Red Raiders. Tech’s offense has been a tale of two offenses under each QB. The Red Raiders hadn’t scored one point in the last 10 drives with Bowman at QB, while Colombi has led the team to 29 points over 10 drives of his own.
On Saturday against the West Virginia Mountaineers, who came into the game with the best total defense in all of college football, Colombi finished 22/28 for 169 yards and one touchdown pass, plus 11 carries for 40 yards with one touchdown run. The rushing touchdown was the first score of the game as Colombi took the Red Raiders on a 10-play, 69-yard drive to start the game and ran it in from one-yard out for a 7-0 lead.
WVU would tie the game on the next drive, but the Red Raiders took control for the next 2+ quarters. Texas Tech added first half touchdowns on a 48-yard touchdown run by SaRodorick Thompson and then Colombi hooked up with Trey Cleveland on an 11-yard score. At halftime, the Red Raiders held a 20-13 lead.
But on the first drive of the second half, TTU’s Ja’Lynn Polk fumbled, and three plays later Jarret Doege found T.J. Banks for a two-yard touchdown and the Mountaineers tied the game at 20.
That was the first of three-straight touchdown drives by both teams, as the game was tied at 27 at the midway point of the third quarter. Both defenses then locked down as the game remained tied into the fourth quarter, and there were a combined five punts in a row.
Then with under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, it wasn’t Colombi and the offense, but the Texas Tech defense that turned the game around for good. WVU QB Jarret Doege found Sam James on a screen play and James was stripped by Jacob Morgenstern, and recovered by Tech’s Zach McPhearson, who took it 42 yards for a touchdown and a 34-27 lead that would turn out to be the final score.
Tech’s defense held its own, keeping WVU RB Leddie Brown in check with 77 yards on 21 carries. This came one week after Brown piled up nearly 200 rushing yards against the Kansas Jayhawks. While Mountaineers QB Jarret Doege had 347 passing yards, his wide receivers let him down with seven drops on the day.
For Texas Tech, it gets them in the win column in Big 12 play for the first time this season and clearly makes Colombi the leader of the offense for the foreseeable future. Tech stays home for a match up against Oklahoma next weekend.
Meantime, the Mountaineers fall to 2-2 in conference play and will take on Kansas State at home next Saturday.
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