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Big 12


Football: Potent Texas Tech offense misfires when needed most

Web Posted: 10/29/2006 12:22 AM CDT

Tim Griffin
Express-News Staff Writer

LUBBOCK — Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell's statistics looked great, but they didn't allow him to him feel better Saturday night after playing Texas.

His career-best 519 yards passing in the Longhorns' 35-31 victory over the Red Raiders were of little consolation when he considered how his team squandered a chance at a big upset.

"I don't feel really good," Harrell said. "It was a tough loss to take. We felt like we could have won the game. It was frustrating."

None was more galling than when he was stopped inches short of a first down at the UT 15 with 4:30 left. Harrell was convinced his team was going to rally after Jake Ratliff's fumble recovery at the UT 24.

"We were very, very confident," said Harrell, who threw for three touchdowns. "I didn't think we would ever lose this game. We played with confidence. We still felt like we were moving the ball, but we were stopping ourselves when we had the ball."

Harrell had to move the ball only inches for the first down, but was pushed backward after a little surge from the Red Raiders' offensive line.

"I think that last play was as good as any," Tech coach Mike Leach said. "Just line up, see what they do and react to it. We had confidence in it."

That play epitomized the struggles the Red Raiders endured in the second half. After jumping to an early 21-0 lead and a 31-21 advantage at the half, Tech was shut out after intermission. The Red Raiders converted only one of seven third-down plays and were stopped short on two fourth-down tries in the fourth quarter.

Tech also rushed for a season-low minus-1 yard. That forced the Red Raiders to rely on their passing most of the game and deprived them of any offensive balance.

On Tech's next-to-last drive of the game, Harrell's pass to Joel Filani appeared to have been enough for a first down. But the referees judged that he had been stopped just short of the marker after the play was reviewed.

Leach declined to comment on the officiating on either of the late plays.

"I think there were a number (of plays) that a lot of people would have an opinion," Leach said. "There are some who can comment on it and others that can't. I'm one of can'ts."

Tech's offense sputtered after wide receiver Jarrett Hicks was sidelined with an apparent head injury early in the second half. Hicks snagged nine catches for a game-high 156 yards, but had no catches in the fourth quarter when Tech was attempting to rally.

"I thought it hurt a little because Jarrett was hot in the first half," Leach said. "But I think we ended up moving the ball. The problem was we kept putting ourselves in long-yardage situations that was tough to keep fighting through."