There is no debating the ugliness of Texas Tech's 42-35 victory over Central Arkansas in the season opener Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Now imagine if the Red Raiders had lost.
One could argue Tech probably would have suffered an embarrassing home loss to the Bears, an FCS school, had it not been for the heroics of Bradley Marquez.
The senior receiver turned in a career night, setting new personal single-game bests in catches (11), receiving yards (184) and touchdowns (2), plus hauled in the longest reception of his Red Raider career on a 70-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Marquez was Tech's leading receiver at the half with five catches for 48 yards, but said after the game he was disappointed at the break.
"But just me, personally, I knew I could have started better and helped this offense get off to a better start," Marquez said. "I knew how important that was for us, and I wasn't able to do that. I'm just glad we were able to pull out the win."
The 70-yard score came on a deep drag down the middle of the field. Quarterback Davis Webb hit Marquez in stride behind a pair of UCA defenders at the Tech 43 and he raced the final 57 yards to the end zone. That gave the Red Raiders a 35-21 cushion with 12:58 remaining in the contest.
The Bears answered back with a 15-play scoring drive on the ensuing possession to trim the lead back to a single score with 7:47 to play.
Again, Marquez stepped up with a 27-yard scoring catch on a seam route off of play-action to push Tech's lead back up to 42-28 with 5:38 on the clock.
"Just being a senior on this team and just going into halftime and knowing how good of a team we are and how many points we left out there, somebody needed to step up," Marquez said. "Me with my experience, I've been through ups and downs throughout my career here, so I felt it was my time, and I needed to go out there and do the best I could possibly do."
Though the Bears would score again, Tech was able to milk the final minutes off the clock and sneak away with the 42-35 win.
"Yeah, I'd like to think so (that the close win could serve as a wake-up call). We've got to take some positives out of this," Marquez said. "Granted, it wasn't the way we wanted to win, but we did get a victory. It wasn't pretty, but like I said, we've got to learn from it. We had a lot of young guys out there maybe getting their first college games in and just getting their feet under them."
Marquez Saves the Day
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