Red Raiders and Sun Devils provide Holiday Bowl fireworks

December 30, 2013

Bradley Marquez TD catch
(Photo by: Tri Le)
San Diego, CA - Texas Tech (8-5) defeated 14th-ranked Arizona State 37-23 (10-4) on Monday night at the National University Holiday Bowl behind the impressive passing of Freshman QB Davis Webb, who threw for 403 yards while completing 28 of 41 passes.

The game provided the nation at large another opportunity to examine the respective college football conference supremacy claims of the Pac-12 and Big 12. While some may still insist that the SEC unequivocally remains the top dog until they are beaten in a BCS Title Game specifically, to most reasonable fans conference depth is a better indicator, and clearly the SEC, from top to bottom, is a weaker conference than in previous years.

On this night it was the Big 12 that made a strong statement as the Red Raiders beat up on the heavily favored Sun Devils.

"We didn't get any respect all weekend long," said Texas Tech WR Eric Ward. "It was all about Arizona State and their record and this, that, and the other. So we used that to fuel the fire."

The Red Raiders came out of the gate aggressively and immediately drove down the field against a slow-starting Sun Devils defense. A 38-yard pass completion to the ASU 8-yard line on 3rd Down and 20 was the key play in a 14-play, 77-yard opening touchdown drive that lasted a little over five minutes.  The drive concluded with a 1-yd TD pass to Rodney Hall on 4th and Goal, but a mixed extra point kept the score at 6-0.

An even more impressive second possession for Texas Tech produced an 18-yard TD pass to Jakeem Grant that capped 6-play, 68-yard drive that took less than two minutes for the Red Raiders, putting them up 13-0.

Just when it appeared we might have a blowout, Arizona State found a way to stem the tide of Texas Tech's momentum. First, with its running game, which led to a with a 44-yard field goal. This was followed shortly by a 31-yard successful kick, set up after the subsequent kickoff was fumbled by Texas Tech, which cut the lead to 13-6.

Nonetheless this was only a brief respite for ASU from the Texas Tech offense, which was a juggernaut in the first half. Quarterback Davis Webb led another fast-paced dash down the field ending in a 23-yard scoring toss to wideout Bradley Marquez and followed that with another score to Jakeem Grant, this time for 21 yards. The fourth touchdown in four tries for the Red Raiders offense made the score 27-6 - and there was still over ten minutes remaining in the second quarter!

Jakeem Grant TD (Holiday Bowl 2013) / Photo: Tri Le

However, again, just when it appeared a blowout was inevitable, ASU caught another break, courtesy again of a Texas Tech special teams miscue. A muffed punt provided ASU great field position and the Sun Devils capitalized by scoring on a D.J. Foster scamper from 20 yards.

At that point the ASU defense finally showed up and got its first stop of the game, while the ASU offense tried to keep the comeback rolling with an ever increasingly effective ground attack, led by QB Taylor Kelly and RB D.J. Foster. The Sun Devils offense converted on a gut-check 4th and 1 on their own 33 yard line, and appeared poised to score with a 1st and Goal inside the 3-yard line. But a couple of negative plays led to a 3rd and Goal from the 7-yard line.

ASU QB Taylor Kelly (Holiday Bowl 2013) / Photo: Tri Le

Then, with the half winding down and no timeouts remaining, the Sun Devils apparently panicked and raced their field goal unit onto the field -- unbelievably forgetting that they could simply spike the ball and attempt a field goal on fourth down. The resulting chaos led to a shanked 24-yard attempt to close the half.

Despite that blunder, the ASU offense was not demoralized and scored on the opening drive of the second half. QB Taylor Kelly's legs, not his arm, were once again responsible, this time running for 44 yards and a score to trim the lead to 27-20. Kelly ran for 135 yards on 25 carries on the night.

Holiday Bowl 2013 / Photo: Tri Le 

But momentum shifts were breathtakingly swift in this shootout, and the very next play saw the Texas Tech special teams make up for its previous mistakes with a 90-yard kickoff return for TD. The Red Raiders would never look back from that point on as the lead never dipped below 14 points.

ASU head coach Todd Graham was extremely disappointed in his team's performance. "I'm very embarrassed for our program," he said. "I was embarrassed for the fans that showed up today....It was an ugly game offensively and defensively. We just didn't play very well."

Notes:

  • By making 3 field goals, ASU Freshman Zane Gonzalez tied the NCAA record for field goals made by a Freshman kicker with 25. He shares the record with UCLA's Kai Forbath who set the record in 2007.
  • Texas Tech snapped a five game losing streak to end the regular season in which the average margin of defeat was more than 20 points.
  • The four touchdown passes for Davis Webb (all in the first half) tied him for the most TD passes in the Holiday Bowl.


By Manish Pandya
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald.com





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