Lance’s 5 takeaways from Texas Tech’s escape of scrappy SFA

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Friona graduate and Stephen F. Austin State head coach Colby Carthel directs traffic during his Lumberjacks non-conference game agianst Texas Tech at Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday night. [Michael C. Johnson/ USA Today]

1. Local flavor galore

The Amarillo-area was represented in a big way Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium when Stephen F. Austin visited Texas Tech.

SFA head coach Colby Carthel played his high school ball at Friona, then was a defensive coordinator for West Texas A&M in its recent heyday under his dad, Buffs head coach Don Carthel.

On the SFA coaching staff was defensive ends coach Caid Faske (Bushland High), quarterbacks coach Jared May (WT assistant with Colby) and O-Line coach Nathan Young (Plainview High).

Suiting up for SFA were Tascosa High’s Bert Morris, a starting linebacker, along with wide receiver Lawton Rikel of Canyon High who caught a pass.

Suiting up for Texas Tech was Perryton High’s Dalton Rigdon at wide receiver (who saw snaps), Tascosa High’s L.B. Moore (defensive end) and Joseph Plunk (defensive back), and Canyon High’s Joe Shaw (defensive back).

How cool is that?

2. Slow start, strong finish

For the second week in a row Texas Tech laid an egg in the first half only to get its act together in the second half.

Last week in a 38-21 win over Houston, the Red Raiders trailed 21-7 at halftime.

Saturday night against Stephen F. Austin the Red Raiders trailed 13-7. But like the week before, rallied for a 28-22 win.

Do the math and it means Tech has scored 52 of its 66 points this year in the second half.

“We have to start games better,” said Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells. “We just didn’t play a clean game. But give Coach Carthel and his staff credit. They played hard.”

3. No. 13 anything but unlucky

Texas Tech junior wide receiver Eric Ezukanma wears No. 13.

We all know the reputation No. 13 stands for but Tech is lucky to have Ezukanma.

Ezukanma continued his incredible start to 2021 against SFA catching six passes for 144 yards and scoring the games opening TD less than two minutes in on a 75-yard reception from Tech QB Tyler Shough.

Ezukanma opened his season last week torching Houston for 179 yards on seven catches, his long a 50-yarder.

That’s 13 catches for 323 yards and a touchdown in two games. So the physical and speedy Ezukanma is averaging 161.5 yards per game, a stat that will keep him among the NCAA leaders throughout the year.

4. Numbers rarely seen from Tech

Look, a win is a win. So Texas Tech is 2-0 after this win over SFA.

However, looking inside the numbers and Tech must improve on the things if a successful Big 12 season is in the future.

Tech had 11 first downs, compared to SFA’s 22. Tech ran 49 plays, compared to SFA’s 88. SFA held the ball 40 minutes, seven seconds compared to Tech at 19:53. Tech had four turnovers (two interceptions, two fumbles) compared to zero turnovers for SFA.

Most shocking to me, Tech completed 11 passes and threw 21 for the entire game.

To say Tech escaped this game with a W is a major understatement.

5. A little this-n-that

On of the cool scenes on the sideline before the game was seeing together Texas Tech men’s basketball coach Mark Adams, Texas Tech men’s basketball Chief of Staff Rick Cooper, and Stephen F. Austin assistant coach Don Carthel. Of course, those three were all head coaches at West Texas A&M. … During the game Tech honored Distinguished Alumni Lettermen and gues what, it was all Amarillo. Former Amarillo High volleyball player and Tech star Becky Boxwell McIlraith and former Palo Duro High and Tech basketball player Gene Arrington were the two honored. … Attendance for the Tech home opener was 55,271. One of the loudest noises from the fans arrived when it showed Texas losing to Arkansas on the big screen. … Yes, that was Shaquille O’Neal performing at Raider Alley before the game. Kind of loud, but not too shabby, is my old man review.

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