By Jose Rodriguez
Big 12 Syndication/The Daily Toreador
Severe weather played as big a role as any potential Heisman Trophy candidate did during college football’s opening weekend, forcing delays in three games with two of those ending early.
For a while, it seemed as though the combination of a dust storm and rain would become a major factor in the outcome of Texas Tech’s regular-season opener against Texas State on Saturday.
The only storm Tech coach Tommy Tuberville was concerned about was the one brewing on the football field as Texas State held on to a 10-9 lead entering halftime.
“It wasn’t a great first half,” Tuberville said. “(It was) kind of a perfect storm for Texas State.”
The Red Raider offense was not able to establish any rhythm in the first quarter, punting twice and committing a turnover before scoring a touchdown with less than a minute left.Tech quarterback Seth Doege connected with freshman receiver Bradley Marquez for a 10-yard touchdown for that score.
The Red Raiders quickly put some more points on the board, forcing a safety on Texas State’s following drive when the Bobcats’ quarterback Sean Rutherford attempted to throw the ball away, but failed to make it out of the end zone.
Will Johnson’s 40-yard field goal and Marcus Curry’s 7-yard touchdown run would be Texas State’s sole points of the first half, as well as the entire game.
Tech came out firing in the third quarter, scoring on all three drives of the period en route to a 50-10 shellacking of Texas State (0-1).
“I think no one was actually in panic,” Tech running back Eric Stephens said of the team’s demeanor at halftime. “We knew we could play better than what we was. And we just had to go out and execute.”
Doege and Tech receiver Darrin Moore got the ball rolling in Tech’s favor with a 20-yard hookup at the 7:22 mark in the third quarter, the first of two scoring connections between the two players.
The Red Raiders’ (1-0) running game, a virtual nonfactor in the first half, made its presence felt toward the end of the third quarter.
Doege, with the offense perched on the Texas State 46-yard line, checked from a pass play to a run play designed for Stephens.
Just seconds later, Stephens found himself celebrating a touchdown in the end zone.
A key block from fullback Omar Ontiveros, in addition to Doege’s decision to audible, sent Stephens right up the heart of the Bobcats defense untouched.
“Coach always tells (Ontiveros) to make sure you have inside leverage,” Stephens said of Ontiveros’ role in that specific play. “He had inside leverage perfect. Omar does a great job blocking. And there was nobody there. I just had to split the safeties.
“That was it.”
Stephens collected his second score of the evening less than two minutes later, scoring on a 2-yard run to close the third quarter.
Tech defensive lineman Dartwan Bush forced a fumble, which was recovered by freshman linebacker Blake Dees, allowing Stephens and the offense to squeeze in a final score before the fourth quarter.
Doege capped off a 23-for-33, 326 yards and three-touchdown effort with a 20-yard strike to Tramain Swindall with 11:54 remaining in the final quarter before being taken out of the game to allow playing time for backup Jacob Karam.
Karam finished the game, completing 2 of 4 passes for 22 yards and one score.
Four different receivers caught touchdown passes, a list consisting of Moore, Marquez, Swindall and Eric Ward.
Moore, the leading receiver of the game with 221 yards on 12 catches, said this year’s bunch has a chance to exceed last year’s bunch led by Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis.
“I feel last year’s receivers, Lyle and Detron … they were both great receivers,” Moore said. “I learned a lot from both of them. But, I feel like the receivers we have now can do the same things they did, plus more.”
Despite avoiding the upset, Tech did not end the game without enduring losses of its own in regards to injured players.
Three players, two of them defensive starters in defensive end Leon Mackey and safety Cody Davis, were taken out and evaluated.
“We lost (running back) Aaron Crawford I think (on) the first play — first time he ran the ball,” Tuberville said. “Hopefully he’ll be back. We’re going to need him back. We lost Leon Mackey — did something to his chest. They’re still evaluating that. Cody Davis went out with — they don’t know whether it’s a concussion or not, but they pulled him out just to look at him.”
The Red Raiders get a bye week before returning to action against New Mexico at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 in Albuquerque, N.M.