Tech QB Cumbie throws for 281 yards, 3 TDs

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) -- Texas Tech coach Mike Leach and Jarrett Hicks huddled up at halftime and decided the team's leading receiver should get the ball more.

It turned out to be a good plan.

Hicks caught two of Sonny Cumbie's three touchdown passes in the second half as the Red Raiders beat No. 23 Oklahoma State 31-15 on Saturday.

"It was my opinion he could whip the guy across from him, and he was going up against one of the better cornerbacks in the Big 12," said Leach, referring to Cowboys cornerback Robert Jones.

Hicks agreed and suggested more throws his way to Leach.

"He's a great player, and he really rose up there," said Leach of Hicks, the Big 12's leading receiver.

The Red Raiders' prolific passing attack didn't get going until its first possession of the second half when Cumbie went 4-for-4, with three going to Hicks.

The catches were Hicks' first of the game and went for 38, 27 and 2 yards, the last one for the touchdown to put the Red Raiders (7-4, 5-3) up 14-9.

"Right before that drive, coach Leach got in my ear and told me to make a play," said Hicks, who finished with five catches for 96 yards. "It was coming to a point in the game where we really needed a play."

He caught his second TD pass, a 14-yarder, midway through the fourth quarter to make it 24-15. Taurean Henderson sealed the win on a 6-yard TD run with 2:52 remaining.

"We talked during halftime that we were going to try to get me the ball even more. We made some adjustments, talked about it and got it corrected," Hicks said.

Cumbie, the nation's leading passer, had a season-low 281 yards.

The Cowboys (7-4, 4-4) have dropped four of six following a 5-0 start. Vernand Morency finished with 108 yards on 23 carries, well below his 149-yard average for Oklahoma State.

Tech's defense held the Cowboys without an offensive touchdown and to 176 yards rushing. They ranked eighth nationally coming into the game, averaging 251.9 yards per game.

"It looked like to me we didn't block well," Cowboys coach Les Miles said. "But you have to give them credit.Their defense played well."

Leach went a step further.

"I thought our defense set the tone for this game," he said.

The last time Tech kept an opponent from scoring an offensive TD was in 2002 in a 49-0 win over New Mexico.

Cumbie, who came in averaging 394 yards passing, was 31-for-46 with an interception. His previous low of 294 yards came two weeks ago in a 42-35 overtime loss at Texas A&M.

OSU took a 15-14 lead when safety Jaime Thompson intercepted a pass from Cumbie and returned it 68 yards with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter.

"I've had to bounce back from a few interceptions this year," said Cumbie, who has now thrown 18. "I could have put it on the outside more. But there was a lot of time left on the clock. And our offense, it can score pretty quick."

The Cowboys attempted a two-point conversion but failed when quarterback Donovan Woods fumbled the snap.

"In the second half we had a little bit of a momentum swing but missed the two-point conversion and had the wind taken out of our sails," Woods said.

Tech regained the lead, 17-15, after a 13-play drive stalled at the 5 and Alex Trlica hit a 22-yard field goal with 9:43 remaining in the game.

Cumbie had a season-low 127 passing yards on 16-of-22 in the first half. His previous first-half low was 132 in a 42-17 win over Baylor earlier this month.

The Cowboys threw just one pass in the first half, rushing on 23 straight plays. With about seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, Woods completed a 5-yarder to Morency on third-and-8.

Woods finished 6-for-9 for 60 yards.

The Cowboys ran for 122 yards in the first half, 86 of those from Morency, but trailed 7-6. Morency went over 100 yards rushing for the ninth time this season.

Both teams are in the mix for several of the same bowls, including the Alamo and Independence.

"I think if you're asking did we prove we should be regarded ahead of them on the field, I think we did," Leach said. "But there are a lot of variables involved."

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