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Texas Tech Sputters in Loss to NC State

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Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Donovan Smith (7) is tackled for a loss during the first half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. | Image by Rob Kinnan, USA TODAY Sports

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The Texas Tech Red Raiders could not overcome No.16 NC State’s strong defensive unit in a 27-14 loss at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Wolfpack defense was dominant, its performance highlighted by an 84-yard interception return for a touchdown by sophomore defensive back Aydan White that made it 20-0 with 4:40 before halftime. 

NC. State finished with four sacks and four takeaways against a Tech offense averaging 48 points and 537 yards per game heading into Raleigh. Sophomore left end C.J. Clark had two of the sacks while the Wolfpack smothered the Red Raiders’ rushing game which mustered only 54 yards on 26 carries.

Texas Tech sophomore quarterback Donovan Smith was harassed all night as the Wolfpack defense registered ten quarterback hurries by eight different players. Smith completed 21-of-36 passes for 214 yards and one touchdown, with two interceptions. 

Behren Morton, who came in late in the fourth quarter in relief of Smith, went 4-of-7 for 85 yards and threw an interception.

Smith, who stepped into the starting role after junior Tyler Shough suffered an injury in Week 1, did have a scoring run. His 3-yard keeper capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive and cut the deficit to 27-14 with 10:46 to play.

After the Red Raiders’ defense forced an NC State punt on the ensuing possession, Smith threw three straight incompletions and faced a fourth-and-10 from his own 40. On the crucial play, Smith was intercepted by junior defensive back Jakeen Harris, dousing much of the comeback hopes for the Red Raiders with 8:38 remaining.

Texas Tech raised their expectations for the year with a big win over then-No.25 Houston last week. The Red Raiders, under first-year head coach Joey McGuire, were picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Big 12. 

Tech’s defense was a bright spot as it made things difficult on the Wolfpack offense led by preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Devin Leary at quarterback.

But McGuire knew his team could not win against a nationally-ranked team on the road if it committed too many mistakes. That’s ultimately what happened as a sputtering offense, three interceptions, and a lost muffed punt put the Red Raiders in several difficult situations. 

“We’re going to face some good defenses in the Big 12,” McGuire said. “I think we have to be better in catching all catchable balls, getting vertical when you catch it. We’ve got to put ourselves in good situations. … But there’s some stuff that we’ve got to do as a staff to put these guys in better situations.”

Texas Tech lost linebacker Bryce Ramirez who was carted off in the first quarter with an apparent serious leg injury. He was injured when teammates tackled Wolfpack running back Jordan Houston, and the pile of players rolled over Ramirez’s left leg, twisting it abnormally. 

Ramirez, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship, was making his first career start Saturday night in his fourth season with the program.

Next up for the Red Raiders is its third consecutive ranked opponent as they begin Big 12 play against the No.22 Texas Longhorns on September 24. 

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