Oct. 3, 2009
Saturday: Texas Tech 48, Lobos 28
Up Next: Lobos at Wyoming, Saturday (Oct.10)
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It looked like a good thing, for a while. The Lobos' relentless and hard-hitting defense sent Texas Tech starter Taylor Potts limping to the sidelines looking for a soft place to crash and recover. The score was knotted 7-all as the first half ticked toward its conclusion.
In came a former walk-on quarterback whom the Raiders call "sticks," well, because that's kind of what Steven Sheffield looks like on a good day -- a stick wearing shoulder pads.
But the 190 pounds strung out on his lean 6-foot-4 frame were full of Red Raider magic Saturday in Lubbock as he led Tech into the end zone on his first four possessions, pacing the Raiders to a 48-28 non-conference win.
Sheffield threw Tech into the end zone as time expired in the first half to hand the Red Raiders a 14-7 lead. He pushed Tech back into paydirt on the Raiders' first three possessions of the second half to forge a solid 35-7 Tech lead.
"They were able to hit a few big plays on us," said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley.
"I don't believe in moral victories, I don't believe on coach victories. It's either winning or losing and we lost the ball game. But if a team fights the way they did today and the way they have every game, I see brighter days for us as a program and I see them coming very soon."
The loss dropped UNM to 0-5 on the season. Tech bumped its record to 3-2. The Lobos return to Mountain West Conference action Saturday at Wyoming. The Lobos are 0-1 in MWC games.
The Lobos reached the end zone four time vs. Tech; three times by the UNM offense and one time by the UNM defense.
The Lobos produced the 7-all tie on a Donovan Porterie pass to Josh Fussell in the second quarter. The Lobos second score came early in the fourth quarter when senior Frankie Solomon gathered in a Sheffield pass, stiff armed his way through a would-be tackle and went 29 yards for the score.
The Lobos' A.J. Bulter scored from a yard out with 3:36 to play to push the scoreboard to 35-21. Butler had lost the ball on a fumble on his previous carry, but the miscue was cancelled out by a Tech defensive penalty. The Lobos tried an on-sides kick which handed Tech good field position for a short drive which ended on a Harris Jeffers run from two yards out. Tech was up 42-21, but Porterie flipped a short pass to Bryan Williams that he took 61 yards for a score.
UNM again went for an on-sides opportunity that Tech's Alexander Torres ran back to the UNM two. Jeffers scored the final TD of the game with one second to go. Final: Tech 48, UNM 28.
The outing was by far the most impressive of the season for the young Lobos. They racked up 431 yards in total offense with 316 coming through the air. Tech had 487 yards and 453 passing yards. Tech converted only 1-of-7 third-down attempts and had five turnovers: three interceptions and two fumbles.
Porterie had a sharp outing going 30-of-56 for 316 yards with two touchdowns. He had no interceptions. A.J. Butler had nine receptions out of the backfield while Victor James, Daryl Jones and Lucas Reed pulled in four passes. Butler had 102 yards rushing on 26 carries.
"The running game is looking pretty good," said Porterie. "The receivers are pulling in more balls and the offensive line is giving me time, so as an offensive unit, we're coming together and getting closer. As a quarterback, that's what you want to see from your team."
Sheffield finished 16-of-23 for 238 yards and two TD passes. Potts went 13-of-23 for 215 yards, no TDs and two picks. Batch had only 47 yards on eight carries, but he averaged 5.9 yards per carry. Alex Torres had seven grabs for Tech and Swindall had five for 139 yards.
The Lobos opened the second half down 14-7, but their first possession hurt badly. Porterie scrambled out of a shrinking pocket and was headed toward an apparent first down, but was hit from behind. The ball went to the Tech turf and the Red Raiders recovered at the UNM 34-yard line.
"We gave them a short field," said Locksley. "We don't have the team that can overcome that type of adversity just yet. But we're getting close."
Sheffield started the second half as Potts stayed on the bench. The Tech sub opened the second half the same way he closed the first half. He got the Raiders some points. This time it was a 5-yard run up the middle by tailback Baron Batch. At the 9:53 mark of the third, Tech was up 21-7. The Lobos sputtered on offense and Tech took over at its 43-yard line.
Sheffield moved the chains and also the numbers on the Tech side of the scoreboard making it 3-for-3 on his drives ending in the end zone. Sheffield scrambled out of the pocket and spotted Detron Lewis open on the left side. Lewis made a nice cut and leaped into the zone. Tech was up 28-7 with 5:23 to go in the third. It went down as a 20-yard TD pass.
Sheffield stayed hot and put Tech up 35-7 with a little swing pass out to Jeffers. The Tech speedster turned the corner and burned the UNM secondary down the left side for a 71-yard score.
However, Sheffield was not perfect this day in front of a sold-out Jones AT&T Stadium crowd. He overthrew a Tech receiver early in the fourth quarter and Solomon pulled in the gift. The Lobo senior shredded a would-be Tech tackler with a stiff arm and rambled 29 yards for a UNM touchdown.
The Lobos went for the on-sides kick, got it and got the ball back with 11:54 to play, down 35-14. Tech sacked Porterie twice and UNM turned the ball over on downs with 9:55 remaining to play. The teams kind of see-sawed their way to the 48-28 final.
"I'm proud of the way the guys competed," said Locksley. "This thing is close to turning the corner."
You cut away a minute off the scoreboard at the beginning and the end of the first half and the Lobos walk into the break with a 7-0 lead. The Raiders didn't waste much time, about 38 seconds, to first reach the scoreboard. They also scored at the gun to end the first half and carry a 14-7 lead into the locker room.
The Lobos played the Raiders pretty much even on the field. The big difference was that the best quarterback on the field in that half was playing for the Lobos -- Porterie. The UNM senior went 14 of 28 in the first half for 143 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.
"The thing that I think makes Donovan a good quarterback is the fact that he manages the game and manages bad plays and does not try to force anything," said Locksley. "I'd say that he probably played well enough to give us a good enough chance to win."
Potts had decent numbers in one part of his passing line -- 13-of-23 for 213 yards -- but you could argue that his favorite target of the first half was UNM's Nathan Enriquez. The redshirt freshman from Las Cruces Mayfield High reached out to make two exceptional picks on Potts passes.
The Lobos began the game with a skaky moment considering they were heavy underdogs in their trip to Jones AT&T Stadium. Potts' first pass hit Tramain Swindall on a medium crossing route. Swindall broke a tackle and went 79 yards to the UNM 1-yard line.
Lobo linebacker Clint McPeek showed a lot of hustle and speed in catching Swindall from behind and leaving Tech a yard short. Harrison Jeffers took it over on the next play and Tech had a 7-0 lead.
Enriquez did his thing to help keep Tech out of the end zone by picking off two Potts passes. Porterie did a nice job moving the UNM offense and UNM finally cracked the Tech zone on a 7-yard pass from Porterie to Josh Fussell. UNM converted a fourth-down play to keep that scoring drive moving.
The Lobos might have had more points in the first half, but drives were hurt by an A.J. Butler's fumble on the Tech 7-yard line, a holding penalty, dropped passes, and a missed field goal by James Aho. Tech also helped UNM when a wide open Edward Britton dropped a pass that probably would have taken him into the end zone.
Potts, who took a beating from the hard-charging Lobo defense, stayed on the sidelines for Tech's final possession of the half. Sheffield came in and shredded the Lobo secondary. The Tech sub got the Raiders into the end zone with no time on the clock which handed them a 14-7 halftime lead. He drove the Raiders from their 14-yard line into UNM's goal in 56 seconds.
The first half was a solid one statistically for the Lobos. They had more time of possession (19:01) then they had averaged in their first four games. UNM had 227 net yards. Tech had 288 net yards, 301 passing.