LUBBOCK — After 557 yards of total offense and seven combined touchdowns, the first half between the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Arizona State Sun Devils came to an end with TTU carrying a 35-17 advantage into the break.
Arizona State got off to a terrific start on its first drive Saturday night, as redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins completed three of his first four passes to quickly move the Sun Devils deep into Texas Tech territory.
TTU brought pressure on third-and-long just beyond the Red Raiders’ red zone, forcing Wilkins to get rid of the ball out of bounds. Freshman placekicker Brandon Ruiz then missed a 41-yard field goal to cap the drive.
The Devils forced a three-and-out on their first defensive possession, then managed another impressive drive to give Ruiz a shot from 44 yards out. He would convert to give ASU a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
Texas Tech’s high-powered offense took a while to get going, but it was able to take the lead with just over four minutes to go in the first period. TTU quarterback Nic Shimonek led a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive that gave the Red Raiders a 7-3 advantage.
TTU slowly moved the ball down the field, using a variety of short passes and stretch runs to avoid the ASU pass rush. A couple long runs from Red Raiders senior tailback Justin Stockton then put TTU in the red zone and a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Keke Coutee put the Red Raiders ahead.
Huge plays have haunted the Sun Devils so far this season and Saturday night was no exception. Shimonek completed back-to-back passes of 26 and 35 yards, then capped the Red Raiders third drive with his second touchdown pass of the night, giving TTU a 14-3 lead.
After ASU fumbled on a poor snap from offensive lineman Cohl Cabral, Shimonek lofted a beautiful touchdown pass to Dylan Cantrell in the back of the end zone to add to the Texas Tech lead and move the score to 21-3.
A couple huge plays from Arizona State’s playmakers and a bevy of penalties leveled against Texas Tech allowed the Sun Devils to net their first touchdown of the game early during the second quarter.
The drive initially seemed to have stalled after Wilkins was sacked deep inside ASU’s own territory on a second-and-long, but back-to-back penalties on the Red Raiders’ defense kept the Sun Devils’ offense moving down the field.
Senior running back Kalen Ballage netted an incredible 14-yard run after the offensive line collapsed, then Wilkins followed it with an 11-yard run of his own down the far sideline. Two more personal fouls from Texas Tech put the Devils on the Red Raiders’ 3- yard line. Wilkins then lofted a touchdown pass to sophomore wideout Kyle Williams to decrease the ASU deficit to 21-10.
The Sun Devil defense seemed seconds away from allowing TTU to extend its lead as the Red Raiders had once again marched to the ASU goal line, but Texas Tech running back Desmond Nisby fumbled, as he attempted to stretch the ball into the end zone — giving the Devils a lifeline as the game headed into the final few minutes of the first half.
ASU took just under four minutes to capitalize on the Red Raiders’ mistake, as Wilkins completed four-consecutive pass attempts and senior running back Demario Richard punched in a touchdown at the goal line to move the score to 21-17.
The extremely high-scoring, wild first half continued on the Red Raiders next drive, as it took TTU just three and a half minutes to extend its lead to 28-17. Coutee caught two passes for 57 yards, setting up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Shimonek to Mason Reed.
On the ensuing Arizona State possession, the Red Raiders blocked the ASU punt and took over in the Sun Devils’ red zone. Shimonek tossed a 14-yard touchdown to the corner of the end zone and increased the TTU lead to 35-17.