Texas Tech earns third straight win, 24-23 over UCF

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Texas Tech found just enough rhythm in the running game in the second half Saturday to squeak out a 24-23 win over visiting UFC on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

With a third straight win, Texas Tech became bowl eligible for the second consecutive year.

With senior Tahj Brooks leading the way, the Red Raiders carved out 110 rushing yards on 22 carries after halftime to hold on.

Brooks accounted for every one of those yards in the second half to finish with 182 rushing yards total. He was the centerpiece of three fourth-quarter series when Texas Tech (6-5, 5-3 Big 12) ate up large chunks of clock to keep the Knights’ offense on the sideline.

UCF (5-6, 2-6) did strike for a big play in the final period when a cornerback blitz left Javon Baker wide open. John Rhys Plumlee delivered the 71-yard touchdown toss to pull the Knights within 24-23. But kicker Colton Boomer shanked the extra-point try to leave UCF down by a point.

Texas Tech never gave the Knights a chance to erase that mistake by running out the final 5:30 on a 12-play drive. Brooks ran eight times for 34 yards to keep the Red Raiders moving the chains.

Boomer also missed a 32-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter when the score was deadlocked 14-14.

Following that miss, Texas Tech gained the upper hand for the first time when Brooks bolted 13 yards off right tackle to cross the goal line with 11 seconds left in the third frame. The Red Raiders cashed in on a costly interception moments before.

The Knights got the ball back at their own 19-yard-line but on the first play, Plumlee hurried a throw and his pass fluttered short and CJ Baskerville snared the interception for TTU.

The teams fought to a 14-14 halftime tie with the Knights jumping ahead 14-0 in the first quarter and the Red Raiders responding with two TDs to pull even.

UCF had a chance to go to the intermission in front when it drove 73 yards in the closing minute of the second quarter. But Plumlee threw a pass to the middle of the field in the closing seconds and the Knights couldn’t get set up for another play as time expired.

Before that gaffe, UCF rushed for 168 first-half yards, the most the Red Raiders allowed in a half this season.