Texas Tech Cruises 38-14 Over Navy

Texas Tech (8-5), in their fourth consecutive bowl appearance under head coach <b>Mike Leach</b> (now 2-2 in bowl games), met a very good Navy football team (8-5) at Reliant Stadium in the EV1.Net Houston Bowl. But in the end, only the Red Raiders would be seen celebrating wildly as they knocked off the Midshipmen 38-14.

B.J. Symons, along with the several other seniors closing out their collegiate careers, bids farewell in style as he collected the Bowl-Game MVP award capping a record-shattering season that saw him throw for more yards than any other QB in NCAA history with 5,833 yards and 52 TDs (second only to David Klingler's 54) in 13 games...

Kid's stats in the EV1.Net Houston Bowl?

Off-the-page as he completed 41 passes on 53 attempts for 497 yards and 4 TDs against a single INT.

But the contest featuring two offenses ranked 4th (Texas Tech) and 29th (Navy) in NCAA scoring, surprisingly, missed out on several scoring opportunites in the first half.

"In games like these, you always hear how many points the offenses are going to score, but the defenses practice too," Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach said. "So the first half was a credit to both defenses. And I'm very proud of the way our defense played -- all four quarters."

It wasn't until the 10:48 mark of the 2nd QTR before anybody got on the board. Symons led the offense on a 5-play drive (covering 48 yards) connecting with Mickey Peters for a 4-yard TD toss. And while the O managed just one more score (Symons 17-yard TD pass to Nehemiah Glover) in the first stanza, the Midshipmen shot blanks as Lyle Setencich's Defense played inspired ball. They were opportunistic in a couple of key situations, none bigger than Keyunta Dawson's fumble return when Navy was poised to tie the game 7-7 sittin' 2nd and Goal on the Red Raider 1.

"That was huge," Leach said, "It kept them out of the end zone and was a big momentum lift for us."

Texas Tech's second touchdown came on an 10-play drive that started on their own 20 with just 4 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the half. They chewed all but four seconds of that stretching their lead to 14.

Navy finally got going in the second half behind the impressive play of QB Craig Candeto and the big, bruising running of Mike Echols. Behind their option-styled attack, they covered 79 yards in 11 plays to get within 7 after crossing the goal line on a 4th-and-Goal conversion from the Red Raider 2.

But Tech quickly marched 68 yards down the field in 9 plays with Taurean Henderson scampering four yards to reach pay dirt putting them up 21-7.

The Red Raider D then held the Midshipmen to four plays, including a fake-punt on 4th down, giving their 6-1, 215-pound gunslinger (playing in front of friends and family in his hometown of Houston) another opportunity to move the offense. Symons moved them into Keith Toogood field goal range. Toogood, who missed a 22-yard FG early in the first half, chipped his second FG attempt (21 yards) just inside the right upright staking the Scarlet and Black to a 24-7 lead with a little over a quarter remaining in the game.

Navy immediately responded with a TD drive to put the game at 24-14, but failed to score again as Adell Duckett and Gang were simply too stout.

Tech was not finished, though, as they immediately answered with a 7-play TD drive (covering 88 yards) when Symons hooked up with Jarret Hicks putting the contest out of reach 31-14. They would then add another TD (Symons to Peters again) to close out the scoring 38-14.

Most expected Navy to hold a considerable edge in time of possession, but they held onto the ball for 30:29 to Tech's 29:31. Again, what a heckuva performance by the Red Raider Defense. While Duckett and Chad Johnson seemingly were all over the field, credit must go to all members of the D when you consider Navy's potent option attack.

Other Notes: Tech's back-to-back bowl wins was the first time in school history. And the four consecutive bowl appearances may also be a school record.

Also, the Red Raiders were the only D-1 school in the Lone Star State to win its bowl game as North Texas, TCU, Houston and Texas did not.

Wes Welker tied an NCAA record with at least one pass reception in 47 straight games.

Also, Leach's O had 5 receivers with 75 catches or more. No other program in D-1 history has ever had more than three with 60 grabs or more.

Symons earlier admitted he had been playing with a torn ACL for two months. Kid's a warrior. The Texas Tech coaches said they'll miss him tremendously for his leadership on- and off-the-field and expect to see him playing on Sundays.

Finally, Tech wraps up their 2003 season on a good note and with plenty of momentum heading into next year. 2004 should be another exciting season, but the focus now shifts to recruiting.

Stay tuned...

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