Harrell helps No. 8 Texas Tech rout Kansas 63-21
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—It’s one down and three to go in a brutish four-game swing that’ll either ruin the season for Texas Tech or thrust the Red Raiders squarely into the national championship hunt.
With Graham Harrell throwing for 386 yards and five touchdowns and a swarming defense forcing Todd Reesing into his worst game since high school, No. 8 Texas Tech pasted No. 19 Kansas 63-21 Saturday. The Red Raiders scored 49 straight points.
Next up for Texas Tech (8-0, 4-0 Big 12) will be No. 1 Texas, followed in order by No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Oklahoma.
“We’re focusing on not looking ahead,” said running back Baron Batch, one of 11 different receivers who caught passes in coach Mike Leach’s seemingly unstoppable spread offense.
Harrell, the nation’s No. 1 passer also scored on a 1-yard run for the Red Raiders, who rolled up 556 yards of total offense while matching their best start in 32 years.
“Here’s the reality of it,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. “We got a good old-fashioned butt-whipping today and we know that. You just get a day where the snowball starts rolling down the hill and before you know it, you’ve got no chance to stop it and it runs you over.”
Darcel McBath intercepted three of Reesing’s first four passes of the third quarter to snuff out any flickering hopes for the Jayhawks (5-3, 2-2).
Harrell’s touchdown passes ranged from 55 yards to Edward Britton to 4 to Michael Crabtree. He also connected with Eric Morris on scoring tosses of 10 and 7 yards and found Crabtree on a tackle-breaking 16-yard scoring play.
“It’s all about having fun,” Harrell said. “When we have fun, we’re at our best.”
The Red Raiders’ career passing leader was 34-for-42 with no interceptions. But late in the game, long after the outcome was decided, Harrell was sacked on successive plays after being sacked only once in his first seven games.
“We went out and executed well. When we play like that, we’re tough to beat,” he said.
Kansas matched Harrell touchdown-for-touchdown through a first quarter that ended 14-14. But the Red Raiders ripped off 49 unanswered points for their 10th victory in 11 games against Kansas, which had won 13 straight at home.
The Jayhawks kept trying to disguise coverages. But a week after giving up an Oklahoma school-record 468 yards passing, they were helpless against Harrell and his offensive machine. When they dropped everybody back in coverage, Harrell would simply stand back, protected by huge blockers, and pick out targets.
When the Jayhawks tried to blitz, Harrell almost invariably found the open receiver and kept moving downfield.
“I thought we had some pressure on him at times,” Mangino said. “There were a couple of instances where we hit him as he was throwing the ball and he completed it. That’s pretty impressive.”
Kansas tried a safety blitz on second down early in the second quarter and Harrell connected with Batch for 24 yards to the 7. On their second possession, Harrell again frustrated a Jayhawks blitz by flipping the ball to Batch on a simple screen that went 42 yards.
Any hope Kansas had in the second half was extinguished by the two quick touchdowns that resulted from McBath’s interceptions, and turned a game that had Kansas favored by two points into one of the most embarrassing routs in Mangino’s seven years as coach.
“I’ve never had that happen to me in a lot of years of football, back-to-back mistakes like that,” Reesing said.
Reesing finished 16-of-26 for 154 yards and two touchdowns in Kansas’ most lopsided home loss since a 64-0 setback to Kansas State in 2002.
“Sometimes when things go bad, they can get real bad,” he said.
Said Kansas defensive back Justin Thornton, “We just got thrashed out there.”
Matt Williams, the Texas Tech student who came out of the stands between quarters of a game on Sept. 20 and won a month of free rent by connecting on a 30-yard field goal, kicked every extra point. The Raiders’ regular kicker, Donnie Corona, missed his only field goal attempt.
“I thought it was easy compared to the kick that got him free rent,” Leach said.