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 Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

Alex Trlica’s 52-yard field goal to send the game to OT is one of the greatest kicks in Tech history

From 2004-07, Alex Trlica had one of the best careers of any placekicker in Texas Tech history.  Earning the nickname of “Mr. Clutch” from his teammates, he was ranked the No. 14 clutch kicker in college football history by Bleacher Report back in 2012.

Though he hit several huge kicks in his career, none was bigger than the 52-yarder he nailed to send the Insight Bowl to overtime.  So often, we complain about a kicker costing his team a game and wasting the efforts of his teammates by missing a kick that he should have made, but in this instance, the junior from Friendswood, TX saved the day by making certain that the incredible effort his team put forth in the second-half comeback did not go to waste.

What’s more, the offense did not make this kick easy for him. That’s because there were plenty of missed opportunities on the final drive for Tech to pick up valuable extra yards.

After driving to the Minnesota 48 with :28 to play, Graham Harrell missed a wide-open Joel Filani on a pass that should have easily netted twelve yards.  Three plays later, Harrell failed to connect with Robert Johnson on a more difficult (but not impossible) pass that would have taken the ball to the Minnesota 21.

As a result, Trlica was faced with nailing a kick that was three yards past his career-long with the game on the line.  Making matters even more challenging was the fact that the game was played on a natural grass surface and throughout the game, several Red Raiders had struggled with the field conditions.

But Trlica made this incredibly difficult kick look easy.  In fact, his kick would have been good from at least 60 yards.

For his career, the man with the third-most field goals in program history was not necessarily a sure-fire kicker.  Though he set the Tech career record with 48 field goals, he was just 65.8% kicker, including two seasons in which he hit fewer than 70%. However, he never missed any of the 233 career extra points he attempted, something that we have seen end up being the difference in critical games (Tech’s loss at Oklahoma State in 2016 and Tech’s win at A&M in 2002 are just two examples).

The next season, Trlica ended his career with another monumental kick.  His 41-yard field goal against Virginia helped Tech close another comeback victory in the postseason by putting Tech up 31-28 with just two seconds to play.

While that kick was massive, it was not the best kick of Trlica’s career.  By drilling the longest kick of his time in Lubbock, in one of the most emotionally charged moments imaginable, Trlica made certain that he gave his teammates a chance to complete a historic comeback.