A Look Back.....1998 and Baylor

Spike Dykes would have to address his share of critics going into the '98 season after going 6-5 in 1997 with bad losses to North Texas and Kansas St. It had been a somber off season as 5 days following the final game; Stoney Garland was in a terrible car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down. The people of Lubbock and West Texas decided to rally around Stoney.

The great residents of West Texas provided him and his family with a custom built home in Plains, fundraisers for medical bills, and many other ways of helping out. The Red Raiders would find inspiration in Stoney and name him honorary captain for the 1998 campaign.

The season would begin under a beautiful sky against UTEP and Tech pleased the home fans with a 35-3 victory. The schedule continued with a rematch with North Texas and took out the previous season's frustrations 30-0. Back to back victory against Fresno St (34-28) and Iowa State (31-24) had Tech sitting at 4-0 for the season and looking forward to matchup against the Baylor Bears.

The Bears came to Lubbock with a record of 1-2, but had an athletic team led by quarterbacks Jermaine Alfred and Odell James, and running back Darrell Bush. Tech had a stable of athletes as well and would show their balanced attack. The first quarter saw a stagnant offense and interceptions. Matt Tittle started the game for an injured Rob Peters, but Spike would call on Peters with 3:31 left in the 1st. In the 2nd quarter, the Red Raiders answered a Baylor field goal in the 2nd quarter with a 1 yard touchdown by Rob Peters. The 3rd quarter saw Tech take a 17-10 lead with a field goal by Chris Birkholz and a 38 yard touchdown catch by Donnie Hart. The 4th quarter would soon become one of the most exciting quarters played in Jones Stadium. Baylor pulled to 17-13 with a 27 yard field goal, but Tech soon answered with a 36 yard touchdown run by "Little" Ricky Williams. With Devin Lemons, John Norman, and Antwan Alexander leading, Tech's defense held the Bears to another field goal, and Williams tacked on his 2nd touchdown of the day, this time from 6 yards out.

It looked like Tech had earned its 5th victory of the season with a lead of 31-16 with a little over 8 minutes remaining, but the Bears would fight back. A long sustained drive got Baylor to the 9 yard line and they were able to punch it in to pull within 8. The Tech offense could not answer and had to give the ball back with just over four minutes remaining. Baylor would drive down the field again and score with 1:10 left in the game. Down 31-29, Baylor would go for the conversion to tie. Quarterback Jermaine Alfred would roll out to his right under pressure and near the Texas Tech sideline. He found Derrius Thompson in the corner of the end zone, for what appeared to be a game tying catch. Game officials; however, ruled that Alfred stepped out of bounds before throwing the pass. Tech would close out the game and walk off victorious.

Ricky Williams finished with 159 yards rushing on 29 carries. Peters also helped shred the Bears' defense, going 10 of 15 for 226 yards and bruised his way to 19 rushes for 106 yards. The Red Raiders would continue on to a 6-0 record with a win at Oklahoma State the following week. But the season would soon fall apart, losing 4 of their final 5 regular season games. The losses came at the hands of Colorado (19-17), Texas A&M (17-10), Missouri (28-26), and Oklahoma (20-17). There was a very bright spot along the way when Tech beat Texas in the 10th week, 42-35.

Tech would finish the regular season at 7-4, which would earn them a trip to the Sanford Independence Bowl in Shreveport against Mississippi. The Red Raiders would be a heavy favorite going into the game, but Ole Miss had other plans. With a coaching change to David Cutcliffe announced before the bowl game, Deuce McAllister and the Rebels dominated the boys from the South Plains and ran away with the victory, 35-18.

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