Texas Tech football classics: Red Raiders complete record comeback vs. Minnesota

Quarterback Graham Harrell #6 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders drops back to pass. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Quarterback Graham Harrell #6 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders drops back to pass. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images) /

The first half was an abject disaster

As you might expect when a team enters intermission down 35-7, just about everything went wrong for the Red Raiders in the opening half.  In fact, Tech allowed the Gophers to put up more points in the first two quarters than they did in all but three games in the regular season.  Even more remarkable was the fact that the Gophers faced a third-down situation only three times in 40 plays.

At the half, Minnesota had outgained Tech 330-204 in total yards.  That was two more yards than the Red Raider defense surrendered on average in the regular season.

What’s more, the Gophers actually threw for three more yards than Tech (160-157) while not surprisingly outrushing the Red Raiders 170-41.  UM also led in first downs (17-11) and time of possession (16:24 – 13:36).

Minnesota kept the Red Raider defense off-balance with its play-action passing game.  And the star of that attack was rather unexpected.

Starting just his second game of the season, backup tight end Jack Simmons caught five passes for 101 yards and a touchdown in the first half as he filled in for injured All-American tight end Matt Spaeth.  That was six more yards than he had through the air in the other twelve games combined that season. What’s more, in his career he never had another 100-yard game.

Meanwhile, running back Amir Pinnix also gashed Tech to the tune of 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.  Averaging 8.4 yards per carry, the junior surpassed his rushing total from all but one regular-season game in 2006.

Meanwhile, Tech’s offense was atrocious.  Graham Harrell was sacked twice and harassed into a 15-23 passing performance.  He threw for just 157 yards while being picked off twice and also losing a fumble.

Maybe the most symbolic play of the half came on the one turnover Tech forced in the game.  Corner Antonio Huffman picked off Minnesota QB Bryan Cuptio at the Minnesota 14-yard-line and looked as if he was about to return the ball for a touchdown.

But as he neared the goal line, he fumbled when he was struck by Tech defensive lineman Jake Ratliff, who was trying to throw a block for him.  Minnesota recovered the ball in the endzone to preserve their 21-0 lead.  On the ensuing possession, the Gophers marched 80 yards to push their lead to 28-0.

After that play, it seemed as if it was going to be Minnesota’s night.  But that all changed in a second half for the ages.