HOUSTON — What was expected to be a high-octane shootout between the University of Houston and Texas Tech ended up being a penalty and turnover-heavy matchup with Tech pulling out the win 27-24.
The game started on a slow note for Houston’s offense in particular as junior quarterback Kyle Allen threw an interception on just his second pass attempt of the game. Red Raiders junior linebacker Dakota Allen stepped in front of a slant route, intercepted Allen’s pass, and carried the ball all the way to Houston’s 32-yard line.
Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury elected to go on a fourth and short on the drive, converting the down but then then the Red Raiders offense stalled out and settled for a 32-yard field goal.
Allen’s struggles with accuracy continued throughout the first half then resulted in indecisiveness in the second.
“There’s a lot of good things that he did do but a lot of things he didn’t,” Houston head coach Major Applewhite said. “I know where Kyle is mentally and he’s beating himself up right now but you have to draw from this moment and become a stronger, more mentally tough football player after those kind of mistakes.”
Allen would finish the game 24-of-39 for 217 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Both teams struggled with penalties and stalled drives throughout the half, though the Red Raiders built on a 28-yard screen pass to Dylan Cantrell when Desmond Nisby burst across the goal line from three yards out to give Texas Tech a 13-0 advantage.
Another penalty forced the Cougars to settle for a field goal on the ensuing drive.
It was a sloppy first quarter for Tech as well as they tallied six penalties for 40 yards including a long pass that would’ve put Tech in the red zone that was called back on a holding call.
“It’s just hard when you can’t get in a rhythm of getting positive movement from the ball,” said Houston wide receiver Steven Dunbar.
A back-and-forth turnover battle ultimately led to Houston’s first touchdown, with D’Eriq King scoring on an 18-yard screen pass. Tech’s final drive of the half ended on a missed field goal as time expired.
Of Houston’s first eight drives, three resulted in turnovers and three led to punts. The Cougars finished the game with five turnovers overall.
“Anytime we turn the football over five times and only force one turnover, you’re not going to win many games,” Applewhite said.
Houston started the second half with a solid drive into the red zone, but Allen threw an interception to Jordyn Brooks. Red Raiders running back Tre King scampered 73-yards, setting up a second missed field goal attempt.
“They did some really good things in terms of [the running plays],” Applewhite said. “There were probably three of plays of 50-plus that flipped the field… that was probably the most disappointing things.”
The Houston offense continued to sputter throughout the second half, and only came alive when senior Kyle Postma came in to replace Allen with seven minutes remaining in the game. Postma drove the Cougars down the field, converting a fourth-and-14 play, and ran the ball into the end zone. He later score again on a short touchdown throw to Bonner.
Postma lifted the previously lackluster Cougars offense, and sparked questions for Applewhite after the game.
Sidestepping the question of the starter going forward, Applewhite commented that the starting quarterback role is always up for grabs as is every other spot on the team.
The Cougars will begin American Athletic Conference play against Temple with a road trip to Philadelphia next Saturday. The game is scheduled for an 11 a.m. kickoff and will be televised on ESPNU.