3:30 PM ET, October 21, 2006
Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
AMES, Iowa (AP) -- Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell can finally stop looking over his shoulder.
Harrell threw for 368 yards and a career-high six touchdowns and the Red Raiders beat Iowa State 42-26 Saturday, snapping a two-game losing streak.
Harrell, a first-year starter, threw five interceptions in losses to Missouri and Colorado and was briefly pulled in favor of freshman Chris Todd in each of those games. But against one of the nation's worst secondaries, Harrell found his stride operating the Red Raiders' complicated passing offense, completing 31 of 40 throws.
"In the last two weeks, we've had a lot of criticism, especially myself," Harrell said. "After two weeks of not looking (good), I knew I had to go out and play well, and I did."
Joel Filani caught three touchdown passes and Danny Amendola added a pair of TD receptions for Texas Tech (5-3, 2-2 Big 12), which has battled through an up-and-down season that had coach Mike Leach openly questioning his team's chemistry.
The coaching staff focused on bringing the team together this week. Leach said he saw those efforts pay off Saturday.
"This is as good as we've played as a team all year," Leach said. "The defense really stepped up when it needed to and guys ran around the field to make plays with a high level of intensity."
Bret Meyer threw for 146 yards for Iowa State (3-5, 0-4), which lost for the fifth time in six games and is in serious danger of missing out on a bowl bid.
Their only win during this stretch was a one-point victory at home over Northern Iowa, a Division I-AA program. The Cyclones haven't beaten a Division I-A opponent with a winning record.
"Obviously we are frustrated, but we need to get back to work," Meyer said. "We didn't expect to be 3-5."
It's a good thing Harrell played so well, because Texas Tech committed 14 penalties and muffed two punts, allowing Iowa State to get as close as 28-26.
Meyer capitalized on the first fumbled punt with a 10-yard TD run. Harrell answered on the next series with a 9-yard TD pass to Amendola, but the Red Raiders dropped another punt late in the first half, leading to a 23-yard field goal by Iowa State's Bret Culbertson.
Filani then extended an Iowa State drive with a penalty for roughing the kicker, and Jason Scales answered with a 5-yard TD run to cut Texas Tech's lead to 28-26 in the third quarter.
But the Cyclones missed a two-point conversion try and never got closer. Harrell hit Shannon Woods for a 32-yard touchdown to push the lead back to nine, 35-26, and any chance Iowa State had for a rally was snuffed out by Brock Stratton, who picked off Meyer for the second time late in the fourth quarter.
Harrell sealed the win with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Filani.
"With the number of personal fouls, and the turnovers that we got and the field position off the turnovers, it's very frustrating that we couldn't take advantage of the opportunities that we had," said Iowa State offensive lineman Scott Stephenson.
Texas Tech scored touchdowns on its first two possessions to jump ahead 14-0 midway through the first quarter.
Filani caught a screen pass, followed a group of blockers down field and broke right for a 30-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Stratton then picked off a pass by Meyer and took it to the Iowa State 35, and Harrell found Filani again, this time for a 7-yard touchdown.
"This week we knew we had to have fun," Harrell said. "We got off to a great start, and we got rolling from there."
Meyer hit Ben Barkema with a 5-yard TD pass to get Iowa State on the board, and Culbertson -- backed by a stiff wind -- buried a career-long 52-yard field goal to bring the Cyclones within 14-10 entering the second quarter.
Iowa State knew it was in for a challenge stopping Texas Tech's passing attack with a secondary ranked 95th in the nation in pass defense. None of the Cyclones' defensive backs had started a game before this season, and Harrell picked on them early and often en route to the best performance of his young career.
"Texas Tech played an outstanding game today," Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said. "Inexperience in some of our positions really showed up."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-7||3-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|12:01||Texas Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||6||0|
|7:21||Texas Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||13||0|
|4:42||Iowa St pass complete for a touchdown.||14||6|
|FG||2:00||Iowa St 52 yard field goal GOOD.||14||10|
|14:30||Texas Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||21||10|
|5:19||Iowa St rush for a touchdown.||21||17|
|2:35||Texas Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||27||17|
|FG||0:21||Iowa St 23 yard field goal GOOD.||28||20|
|8:05||Iowa St rush for a touchdown.||28||27|
|8:05||Iowa St rush for a touchdown.||28||26|
|3:31||Texas Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||34||26|
|1:28||Texas Tech pass complete for a touchdown.||42||26|