LUBBOCK, Texas – The Texas Tech crowd was loud, the atmosphere was hostile. Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert stayed cool, though, despite some rough moments in his first road start.
Gilbert threw for two touchdowns and 227 yards to lead No. 6 Texas in a sloppy victory for the Longhorns on Saturday night.
"He didn't look any different on any play," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "It's amazing to me. His demeanor didn't change at all. Now, on the last drive that we had for the touchdown, he did get after them and he was animated, and that was the first time I'd seen him do that."
Texas put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter after draining more than nine minutes off the clock. The 22-play drive included a risky and successful fake punt on fourth-and-1 on its own 29. Ryan Roberson took a direct snap and ran up the middle for 2 yards and a first down.
"Nobody with any sense would call a fake punt on their own 30, leading by very little. I thought it would be a surprise and Ryan Roberson's a good back," Brown said. "I told Ryan if he messed it up, head west. I wasn't going to see him again and I'd probably have to go with him."
Gilbert capped the march with a 1-yard pass to Barrett Matthews to give the Horns a 24-14 lead with 9:26 left. Gilbert finished 21 of 36 with three interceptions
The game included seven turnovers, four by the Longhorns (3-0, 1-0) and three by the Red Raiders (2-1, 0-1).
"Weird things happen in Lubbock," Brown said.
Texas got a field goal and a touchdown off two Texas Tech turnovers. Red Raiders cornerback Jarvis Phillips intercepted Gilbert twice and returned one 87 yards for a score.
Taylor Potts finished 21 of 35 for 159 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions for Tech.
Potts left the game briefly with what appeared to be an injury to his right hand. Backup Steven Sheffield came into the game for one series and was sacked for a 13-yard loss on his third snap.
In the opening drive of the third quarter Curtis Brown intercepted a pass from Potts at the Texas 14 and it appeared he would scamper for a touchdown. But Baron Batch caught up with Brown and tackled him at the Texas Tech 14. The Longhorns got only a field goal, though.
On the long drive that put Texas up 24-14, they got help from Will Ford on a third-and-13 from the Red Raiders 27. Greg Smith dropped a pass from Gilbert but Ford was called for a taunting penalty to give Texas a first down and another shot to get a score. A few plays later Gilbert hit Matthews with a lob pass for the touchdown.
James Kirkendoll had six catches for 122 yards for Texas.
Brown wanted more points early — the Longhorns had scored only a field in opening quarters of first two games — and he got them. In the first 7:30 minutes Texas had two touchdowns.
On Texas Tech's first play from scrimmage, the snap went over the head of Potts and was recovered by Jackson Jeffcoat at the Red Raiders 7. On the next play Fozzy Whittaker rushed it in, stretching his arm across the goal line to put the Horns up 7-0.
Gilbert's 7-yard pass to Mike Davis put Texas up 14-0.
Texas Tech had 144 yards of offense, its worst game in 10 years.
The last time Texas Tech had fewer than 150 total yards came in 1990 against Miami when they got just 93 total yards. First-year Red Raiders Tommy Tuberville was a defensive coach when the Hurricanes beat the Red Raiders 45-10 in Lubbock.
"You've got to be able to run the ball, and we weren't able to run it at all," he said. "That bad snap put us in a big bind. We never had a bad snap in practice."
Three Texas turnovers, all interceptions within a minute's span, seemed to bring the Texas Tech defense to life.
Gilbert had the Longhorns at the Red Raiders 20 when Scott Smith intercepted him at the 13. On the next play Potts got his second turnover when Blake Gideon, who in 2008 dropped a sure interception right before Michael Crabtree caught the game-winning pass to lift Texas Tech over the then-topped-ranked Longhorns 39-33, plucked the ball at UT's 43 and returned it 22 yards.
But Smith tipped Gilbert's pass on the next series and cornerback Phillips Jarvis grabbed the ball and scooted 87 yards along the near sideline to pull the Red Raiders within 14-7 with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
Potts threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone and his high school teammate, Lyle Leong, pulled it in to tie the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter.