LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury was glad for his team’s 59-45 win over Sam Houston State on Saturday but wonders where their killer instinct is.
Leading 59-31, the Red Raiders allowed the Bearcats to score twice in the fourth quarter after shutting them out in the third.
”I guess lack of success, I’m not sure,” the third-year coach said. ”We’ve got to find it, though. I think Pat (Mahomes) has some of it in him.”
Mahomes, who said he thought he did OK, threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Ian Sadler and Devin Lauderdale. The sophomore also ran for 48 yards on five carries.
”Missed a lot of reads, missed a lot of checks that I could have made happen,” he said. ”I’m always going to look to improve myself and I’m going to watch the film tomorrow and be critical.”
Jakeem Grant ran for his third career kickoff return for a TD on a 94-yarder. He also scored the Red Raiders (1-0) first TD on a 3-yard run.
Mahomes completed 33 of 53 passes with one interception. That pick led to the first of two TDs by Sam Houston State’s Donavan Williams.
Lauderdale finished with 150 yards on eight catches.
The Bearkats (0-1), a Football Championship Subdivision team, stayed close in the first half but were shut out in the third quarter. Bearkats coach K.C. Keeler said his team was as good as Texas Tech but ”you can’t lose the turnover battle 4-1 and expect to win on the road.”
Sam Houston’s Jared Johnson completed 18 of 28 passes for 144 yards with an interception. Backup Jerimiah Briscoe threw a 29-yard TD pass to Davion Davis.
Keeler said he didn’t think the Red Raiders did anything different to hold the Bearkats scoreless in the third quarter.
“I think they did a good job running to the ball, making some third-down stops,” he said, adding that J.J. Gaines’ TD off a pick shifted momentum.
Mahomes showed his mobility in the pocket – the facet of his play that Kingsbury likes a lot – early in the second quarter. On third and 4 from the Bearkats 10, he looked like he was going to run up the middle but then backed up and went to his right. When that path closed he reversed course and scampered until he saw Sadler just across the goal line. Mahomes squared his shoulders and fired the ball to his receiver to put the Red Raiders up 21-14.
Mahomes’ lone pick came when one of his receivers tipped the ball and it was intercepted by Alfonzo McMillian. Two plays later Williams scored on a 1-yard run.
It didn’t appear that Grant would be able to return the kickoff far after he got trapped near the far sideline. But he cut back just past his own 20 and ran cross field to the end zone.
It was the first kickoff return for a TD in a season opener since 2001 against New Mexico and the first since the 2013 Holiday Bowl (Reginald Davis).
Texas Tech, which tied for 116th in turnover margin last season, got something Saturday it rarely got last year: a positive turnover margin. All three came in the second half. Gaines picked off Johnson in the third quarter and returned it 47 yards for a score, and Thierry Nguema picked off Briscoe in the fourth.
Ohio State transfer linebacker Mike Mitchell recovered a fumble in the third quarter and Gaines got one in the fourth.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org