BYU handles error-prone Texas Tech

BYU’s defense took full advantage of Texas Tech’s rash of turnovers and its offense was efficient when it needed as the Cougars emerged with a 27-14 victory in a matchup of two Big 12 Conference teams desperate for a bounce back on Saturday.

With freshman quarterback Jake Strong making his first career start, the Red Raiders coughed the ball up five times to thwart just about every opportunity they had to stick close.

Strong threw three interceptions, the last when Ethan Slade pulled in a badly overthrown ball with 5:48 left in the game after Texas Tech (3-5, 2-3 Big 12) had scored its only second-half touchdown a possession earlier.

BYU (5-2, 2-2) ate up all but the final 18 seconds on the ensuing drive to seal a victory in a game where the Cougars produced only 277 total yards.

That didn’t matter because the Red Raiders constantly handed the ball back, including a fumble on a punt return that set up BYU’s only points after halftime on Will Ferring’s 41-yard field goal late in the third quarter.

Texas Tech answered when Tahj Brooks scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 8:41 left in the game to cap his 105-yard rushing night. But the Red Raiders’ next offensive series ended on the interception.

The Cougars went to halftime in full control, up 24-7 despite snapping the ball only 27 times on offense. BYU held the comfortable lead in large part because Texas Tech consistently either turned the ball over or couldn’t finish drives.

The Red Raiders racked up 233 yards in the opening 30 minutes and were 7-of-10 on third-down conversions. But a costly fumble early and a pair of interceptions squashed any chance to stick close.

After BYU hung the first points of the night on the scoreboard on a 3-yard scoring pass from Kedon Slovis to Chase Roberts to cap the opening series of the game, Texas Tech was poised to pull even when a long, grinding drive moved to the Cougars’ 13-yard-line. Three plays later, the Red Raiders went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 4, but Strong and Brooks didn’t mesh on a handoff, resulting in a 3-yard loss and a turnover on downs.

The teams exchanged punts, with the Red Raiders taking over at their own 10, and on the first play of the series, Strong and Brooks collided, the ball squirted loose, and BYU’s Eddie Heckard corralled it in the end zone for a 14-0 lead.

Texas Tech grabbed momentum briefly when Xavier White got behind the Cougars’ secondary on a wheel route and hauled in Strong’s pass for a 72-yard touchdown catch, Texas Tech’s longest pass play this season, to close the gap to 14-7 with 9:19 left in the first half.

Unfazed, Slovis led the Cougars on their best series of the night — a seven-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 4-yard throw to Darius Lassiter. Slovis was 5-of-7 passing on the drive for 75 yards.

The Red Raiders were on the move on the ensuing drive, carving out three first downs to reach the BYU 35. But Strong’s second-down pass sailed high and Eckard picked it off. The Cougars cashed in when Will Ferrin booted a 35-yard field goal in the final minute before halftime.

–Field Level Media