Any game that goes to double-overtime is going to have its share of turning points. That was certainly the case in the Texas Tech football team’s 33-30 win over Houston on Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest turning point was the Red Raiders’ 4th-and-20 conversion in the first overtime. That connection between Donovan Smith and wide receiver Jerand Bradley helped keep the game alive in the most improbable of manners. In fact, at that point in the game, Houston had a 99% win probability according to ESPN.com.
Of course, we wouldn’t have been in overtime without the heroics of kicker Trey Wolff. His 47-yard field goal in the closing seconds of regulation was about as clutch of a kick as anyone could ever hit.
Speaking of the kicking game, Houston still has to be sick over the roughing the kicker penalty they committed in the first half. Hitting Tech’s Austin McNamara and giving Tech a fresh set of downs, the play also wiped out a punt return TD by Houston’s Tank Dell.
It was a wild game at Jones Stadium and one that won’t soon be forgotten. So let’s finish our analysis of this contest by looking at five hidden moments that helped turn this toss-up game into a Texas Tech victory.
Kosi Eldridge’s sack of Tune on 3rd down leads to missed FG
We begin in the third quarter with the score 17-10 Tech and 3:14 on the clock. Houston had begun the drive at the Tech 43 after intercepting Donovan Smith and returning the ball to its own 42 only to be gifted 15 more yards by Red Raider offensive tackle Monroe Mills, who hit the intercepting ball carrier out of bounds. In other words, Houston was in business.
After eight plays, the Cougar offense would find itself at the Tech 15 facing a 3rd-and-4. At this point, it was almost assured that the Cougars were going to come away with points on this drive.
However, on the third-down play, two critical things happened. First, Houston QB Clayton Tune had a major brain cramp and second, Tech linebacker Kosi Eldridge made a huge play.
Tune took the snap and was instantly flushed out of the pocket by the blitzing Eldridge, who was unblocked on the play. Where Tune’s brain cramp occurred though was that he continued to drift backward instead of just throwing the ball away (he was already out of the pocket so if he’d have thrown the ball past the line of scrimmage and into the Tech sideline, he would not have been flagged for intentional grounding).
As it turned out, Tune would simply eat the ball and take a massive sack. The play lost 15 yards and pushed Houston back to the Tech 30.
That meant that, instead of trying a 32-yard field goal, Houston kicker Bubba Baxa would have to kick one from 47 yards, a much more daunting task. As it were, he would miss the long field goal and Houston would get no points on a drive that started in Tech territory and reached the Red Raider 15.
Of course, in every overtime game, points that are left off of the scoreboard turn out to be massive and that was the case with this missed FG. And it was set up by Eldridge’s sack and Tune’s mental miscue.