LUBBOCK, Texas – HBU senior quarterback Bailey Zappe threw his fourth touchdown of the night with 3:23 left in the game, but the two-point conversion failed as Texas Tech was able to hold for a 35-33 win in the Huskies’ first-ever matchup with a “Power 5” conference opponent Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Zappe completed 30-of-49 passes for a school-record 567 yards and four touchdowns for the Huskies (0-2). In five career games against Football Bowl Subdivision opponents, he has completed 62 percent of his passes for 1,772 yards, 11 touchdowns and only one interception.
Freshman wide receiver Josh Sterns caught five passes for a school-record 209 yards and two touchdowns, while his older brother, junior Jerreth Sterns, made 12 catches for 130 yards and a score. Senior wide receiver Ben Ratzlaff had seven catches for 105 yards, his seventh career 100-yard performance and sophomore DJ Dormeus made five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Ean Beek rushed 16 times for 34 yards.
Senior linebacker Caleb Johnson and junior linebacker Brennan Young each registered 13 tackles and freshman safety Isaiah Cash had 10 tackles and an interception. Sophomore safety Tra Fluellen added seven stops, one for a loss and a pass breakup. Sophomore kicker Gino Garcia made both of his field goal attempts.
Alan Bowman completed 38-of-52 passes for 430 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for the Red Raiders (1-0). SaRodorick Thompson rushed 22 times for 118 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Tahj Brooks added 25 yards and a touchdown. T.J. Vasher caught eight passes for 79 yards and KeSean Carter had six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. Erik Ezukanma added four catches for 66 yards and a score.
Krishon Merriweather led TTU with 12 tackles and Riko Jeffers made eight to lead the Red Raiders defensively.
The Red Raiders had 35 first downs to the Huskies’ 28, but held a slight edge in total yards, 624-600. HBU threw for 572 and only rushed for 28, while TTU threw for 430 and gained 194 on the ground. The Huskies were penalized 10 times for 60 yards, while the Red Raiders committed 13 for 104 yards. Each team turned the ball over once.
TTU took the opening kickoff and marched down the field 75 yards in five plays as Bowman hit Ezukanma for a 7-yard touchdown. HBU responded, but had to settle for Garcia’s 40-yard field goal with 10:11 left in the opening quarter.
After being pinned deep in their own territory by a Patterson punt, the Red Raiders marched 95 yards in 11 plays and Thompson capped it with a 5-yard touchdown run. TTU then had a 42-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard plunge by Brooks to give the Red Raiders a 21-3 lead with 6:22 remaining in the half.
HBU struck right back with Zappe finding Dormeus for a 65-yard touchdown pass with 5:21 to go. The Huskies missed on a couple of opportunities inside the Red Raiders’ 5-yard line in the second quarter, with Jerreth Sterns throwing an interception in the end zone on a receiver pass with 13:16 on the clock and then HBU was stuffed on 4th-and-goal with 27 seconds left. The Huskies went into halftime trailing, 21-10.
The Huskies opened the second-half scoring on Garcia’s 44-yard field goal, then forced a stop to take over at the 20. Zappe completed a 30-yard pass to Jerreth Sterns, then found his little brother, Josh, wide open for a 65-yard touchdown to cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 21-20 with 5:40 to go in the third.
TTU finally answered back after four-straight empty drives, with Thompson finding the end zone from eight yards out to cap an 11-play, 75-yard drive. After an HBU drive stalled at the TTU 40, the Red Raiders took a 35-20 lead on a Bowman 18-yard touchdown pass to Carter.
The Huskies needed only one play to provide the answer as Zappe hooked up with Josh Sterns again, this time for a 75-yard touchdown to make the score 35-27 with 11:19 left in the game.
HBU’s defense came up with a huge stop, stuffing TTU on 4th-and-1 at the 4-yard line with just under six minutes remaining. Zappe found Josh Sterns for a 45-yard completion down to the Red Raiders’ 30, then finished the drive by hitting Jerreth Sterns for an 8-yard touchdown to pull the Huskies within two and set up the decisive two-point conversion. Zappe’s pass intended for Ratzlaff sailed wide near the front pylon.
The Huskies wrap up their abbreviated fall schedule against Louisiana Tech Saturday, Sept. 26, at Joe Attel Stadium in Ruston.