Longhorns defense pretty in ugly win

LUBBOCK, Tex. — Texas started hot and closed with gusto in defeating an always-tricky Texas Tech squad 24-14 at Jones AT&T Stadium Saturday night.

On a night where much of the play was darker than the black on the Red Raiders' jerseys, the Longhorns displayed toughness and an elite defense that set up 10 points while only allowing seven to the Raiders.

"Tonight, (the defense) looked really good," Texas coach Mack Brown said after the game. "Tonight, we were pretty dominating. I thought the defensive staff did a tremendous job, played a lot of guys, keeping guys fresh."

On Texas Tech's first possession, center Justin Keown snapped the ball over quarterback Taylor Potts's head. Freshman defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat beat Potts to the loose ball, recovering at the seven. On the next play, Fozzy Whittaker ran in behind a crushing lead block from tight end Greg Smith, stretching the ball across the plane for a touchdown.

Texas put up another seven on its next drive when Garrett Gilbert rolled out and found Mike Davis in the corner of the end zone from seven yards out.

Texas Tech used its defense to find the scoreboard and cut the Longhorn lead in half. Tech defensive end Scott Smith, who had tipped and intercepted a pass on Texas's previous possession, tipped another pass. But this time, teammate Jarvis Phillips pulled it in and raced 87 yards for a score, hurdling Gilbert in the process.

Taylor Potts found Lyle Leong in the end zone with a 15-yard pass, tying the game at 14 early in the second quarter.

But while an interception sapped all of Texas's momentum, the Longhorns used a pick of their own to snap out of their scoring drought. With the Red Raiders driving, Curtis Brown stepped in front of a Potts pass and returned it 74 yards to the Texas Tech 12. Though Texas didn't get a touchdown out of the turnover, the Longhorns did retake the lead when Justin Tucker kicked a 27-yard field goal.

Brown would have scored a touchdown, except that he was run down by running back Baron Batch at the end.

"I had a little monkey on my back at the end," Brown quipped afterward.

"That was the biggest play of the game," James Kirkendoll said.

The next biggest play for the Longhorns came courtesy of a Red Raider. Texas Tech stopped Texas at the Red Raider 27 when tight end Greg Smith couldn't haul in a Gilbert pass. But Tech cornerback Will Ford went overboard with his trash talking in an admittedly chippy game, according to both sides.

The result was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that gave the Longhorns a first down, and new life, at the 13. Seven plays later, Gilbert hit tight end Barrett Matthews for a one-yard touchdown and a 10-point lead the Longhorns never relinquished.

When the Red Raiders were on offense, they were swarmed and dominated by a faster, more physical unit. Texas Tech finished with -14 yards rushing and just 144 total yards, averaging 2.7 yards per play. The Red Raiders tried everything, even inserting second-string quarterback Steven "Sticks" Sheffield in the third quarter. But Sheffield fared no better against a defense that finished with four sacks and two interceptions.

"We couldn't slow their front down," said Tech coach Tommy Tuberville. "They just turned loose on us in the second half. We just weren't able to make any plays on offense."

The Longhorns also struggled offensively, turning the ball over four times, including three interceptions off tipped balls. But Gilbert praised the offense's resiliency, as well as the offense's ability to respond late. James Kirkendoll was the main bright spot, catching six passes for 122 yards.

After the game, the Longhorns continued to downplay the 2008 game, especially in terms of how it affected the 2010 team. But Whittaker said the win was an important one.

"This game really means a lot …," Whittaker said, "to all of us."

Scoring Summary

Texas — Fozzy Whittaker 7 run (Justin Tucker kick), 13:16 1Q

UT — Mike Davis 7 pass from Garrett Gilbert (Tucker kick), 8:41 1Q

Texas Tech — Jarvis Phillips 87 interception return (Matt  Williams kick), 1:39 1Q

TT — Lyle Leong 15 pass from Taylor Potts (Williams kick), 11:52 2Q

UT — Justin Tucker 27 FG, 8:39 3Q

UT — Barrett Matthews 1 pass from Gilbert (Tucker kick), 9:26 4Q

Game Notes

* For all the talk about the difficulties of winning in Lubbock — and it is difficult—the Longhorns' win meant that they have won three of the last four games played out at the west Texas site.

* If you're looking for a Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week candidate, don't look any further than Texas Tech's Scott Smith. Smith played a major role in the Red Raiders' efforts, finishing with six tackles, three for loss and two sacks. Perhaps more importantly, he helped to cause three of Texas's four turnovers. He intercepted one pass, tipped another pass into the arms of Jarvis Phillips and forced a fumble that was recovered by Sam Fehoko.

* Two of the more maligned players from the 2008 loss, Blake Gideon and Curtis Brown, earned their sweet revenge. Each intercepted a pass in Texas's win.

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