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WATCH: Texas Tech Red Raiders lean on defense in comeback win over Houston Cougars

Sep 4, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Tyler Shough (12) reacts after rushing for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Houston Cougars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Tyler Shough (12) reacts after rushing for a touchdown during the third quarter against the Houston Cougars at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Tech overcame a rocky start, relying on a second half rally to upend host Houston Cougars 38-21 on Saturday in the Good Sam Kickoff at NRG Stadium.

Texas Tech had to battle back from a poor start. The Red Raiders allowed a long touchdown drive, couldn’t recover an onside kick then fumbled a few feet from the goal line — all in the initial, 16 1/2 minutes.

However, the rocky beginning was a distant memory by the end of the night, though, as a stout third-quarter performance by the Red Raiders’ defense turned the game around, with two interceptions helping limit Houston to 31 yards in those 15 minutes.

Both picks came after Texas Tech (1-0) compiled a 60-yard scoring drive that quarterback Tyler Slough capped with a 9-yard run to close a two-touchdown halftime gap to 21-14.

Moments later, Red Raider linebacker Rico Jeffers slipped in front of a Cougar receiver, grabbing Houston quarterback Clayton Tune’s pass and darting 13 yards to the end zone.

Texas Tech seized its first lead right before the third quarter concluded to cash in on the second interception of the second half, this one when Eric Monroe snared a deflected pass. Jonathan Garibay connected on a 34-yard field goal for a 24-21 cushion.

Texas Tech’s defense continued to stand tall, limiting Houston to two short drives to begin the fourth period. The second ended when linebacker Colin Schooler knifed through the right side and dropped Mulbah Car for a 4-yard loss on third-and-1.

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The Red Raiders put together a game-sealing drive that ended when Xavier White grabbed a short pass from Shough and scored from the 3-yard-line.

Tahj Brooks added the exclamation point with a 44-yard run in the closing minute, capping his 134-yard, two-touchdown effort.

Houston dominated the first quarter. The Cougars drove 75 yards on 16 plays after the opening kickoff and took the early lead on Tune’s quarterback sneak. A perfect bounce on the ensuing onside kick allowed Houston to recover and that led to Nathaniel Dell’s 23-yard touchdown grab.

When the Red Raiders finally got their hands on the ball, they drove inside the 5-yard line but White lost a fumble.

That was the last time the Cougars had control as it turned out because the Texas Tech defense took over in the final 30 minutes.

Related: College Football Top 25 Rankings – Alabama still heavy favorite after crushing Miami in Week 1

–Field Level Media