Steed: Red Raiders get the win, but HBU QB Zappe steals the show
Houston Baptist quarterback Bailey Zappe scrambles for yards against Texas Tech during a non-conference game Saturday night. Zappe threw for 567 yards against the Red Raiders. [John Moore/ For Press Pass Sports]
LUBBOCK— Amid an uncertain summer, a fall camp that saw multiple distractions, as well as over two dozen players quarantined at different times due to COVID-19, the Texas Tech football team made its highly anticipated debut in front of a limited, socially distanced crowd of 11,157 Jones AT&T Stadium.
While it felt anything from a normal game day on Saturday, Texas Tech and Houston Baptist did its best to bring normalcy in an unexpected competitive clash.
The Red Raiders picked up a 35-33 victory in the opener but it was HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe stealing headline after the final whistle.
Most Red Raider fans, the Lubbock media, and those watching on TV were watching the Victoria native for the first time.
He wooed The Jones with his pinpoint accuracy, his ability to move the pocket and, oh yea, burning Texas Tech’s less than impressive defense for 567 yards, completing 30-of-49 passes with four touchdown passes. Three of those TD passes over 60 yards.
He’s the only QB to throw for over 500 yards against the Red Raiders since 2000.
Guess who the other quarterback was? Just a Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma named Baker Mayfield.
Zappe left many leaving the Stadium on Saturday night saying, who is this guy? Or ‘that dude can sling it.’
While most caught their first glimpse of Zappe, I’ve been fortunate to follow his career the past couple of years. Good friend, and former Canadian-West Texas A&M quarterback Ben Arbuckle, a graduate assistant for HBU the past two years, saw him day in and day out in practice. Arbuckle sold me on Zappe’s talent. Arbuckle learned under talented Huskies offensive coordinator Zach Kittley, a former Texas Tech grad assistant.
Arbuckle constantly told me ‘you have to see this QB we have. I watch Kittley work with this guy everyday and he’s incredible.’
So last year I tuned in and watched HBU beat South Dakota on the road 53-52. I was floored. Zappe was incredible leading that day throwing for 513 yards with five touchdowns.
I was immediately hooked. Week in and week out I’d follow Zappe’s stats or ask Arbuckle how he did. He’s established himself as the top QB in the Southland Conference and if he was FBS level, no doubt his secret of being a pure stud would be out quick.
He’s not the biggest, or fastest but Zappe has that “It” factor that makes him a true winner when he competes on the field.
It made my night to see Zappe do what he did on a big stage like Texas Tech, and I can’t wait to see what he does going forward.