Ole Miss stumbles early, loses to Texas Tech
HOUSTON - Tyler Shough threw for 242 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores as Texas Tech took advantage of three early turnovers to build a big lead and held on for a 42-25 win over Ole Miss in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night.
Shough, who finished with a career-high 111 yards rushing, accounted for three TDs in the first two quarters to help the Red Raiders (8-5) to a 26-7 halftime lead.
Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart had 361 yards passing with two TD throws and a scoring run. But, he threw two of his three interceptions and lost a fumble in the first half to put the Rebels in a huge hole.
The victory gives Texas Tech its first eight-win season since 2013 and caps a successful debut for first-year coach Joey McGuire, who was given a new six-year, $26.6 million contract earlier Wednesday.
The loss continues a terrible stretch for Ole Miss (8-5), which dropped its final four games, and five of its last six, after opening the season 7-0. The Rebels played a sloppy game with five turnovers and eight penalties for 86 yards and had two defenders ejected for targeting.
Ole Miss scored consecutive touchdowns to get within 35-25 with three minutes to go. But the Rebels attempted an onside kick after that, but Texas Tech's Loic Fouonji grabbed it and returned it 44 yards to push the lead to 42-25.
The Rebels cut the lead to 26-13 on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Dart to Jordan Watkins with about nine minutes left in the third quarter.
SaRodorick Thompson scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter, but Tech's 2-point conversion run failed to leave the Red Raiders up 32-13.
Dayton Wade fumbled on the next drive by Ole Miss to give Texas Tech the ball back, and the Red Raiders settled for a field goal to extend the lead to 35-13 with 9 ½ minutes left.
The Rebels finished with 197 yards rushing, led by freshman Quinshon Judkins, who had 91. Judkins finishes the season with 1,567 yards rushing, which is the second-most by a freshman in SEC history behind Hershel Walker, who had 1,616.
Shough was intercepted in the end zone on Tech's first possession. The Red Raiders took a 7-0 lead when Shough scampered 2 yards for a score on their next drive.
Ole Miss tied it when Zach Evans ran 8 yards for a touchdown with about 5 ½ minutes left in the first.
The Red Raiders were up 10-7 after a field goal when Dart was intercepted by Dadrion Taylor-Demerson. But Texas Tech came up empty when Shough threw an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal from the Ole Miss 3.
But Dart was picked off again on the next possession. This time the Red Raiders cashed in on the error when Shough ran for his second 2-yard score of the game to make it 17-7 with about seven minutes until halftime.
The Rebels went for it on fourth-and-6 from their 29 on the next drive, but were stopped short. The Red Raiders added a field goal before Dart fumbled to give them another possession before the break.
Shough connected with Jerand Bradley on a 12-yard TD, but the 2-point conversion failed to leave Texas Tech up 26-7 at halftime.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders look to be headed in the right direction under McGuire. Texas Tech capped the season with four consecutive wins and should use that as momentum for a strong start next year.
Ole Miss: The Rebels showed so much promise for most of the season but will need to regroup and play much cleaner if they hope to bounce back from their struggles to end the year next season.
The Red Raiders used their first offensive play to pay tribute to former coach Mike Leach, who died Dec. 12 at 61. Texas Tech lined up in Leach's famous "Air Raid" formation with the lineman spread far apart and four receivers out wide and simply stood there until a flag was thrown for delay of game.
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin declined the penalty, and the Red Raiders then ran their first play.
Both teams also remembered Leach, who coached at Texas Tech from 2000-09 and was the coach at Mississippi State when he died, with helmet decals. Texas Tech's looked like pirate flags as a nod to his fascination with pirates, and the Rebels' decals said 'Mike' with the 'I' in the shape of a cowbell for Mississippi State's tradition of using them at games.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders will wait to see if Shough will return for next season or if they'll have to find someone to replace him.
Ole Miss: The Rebels should continue to have a strong running game behind Judkins as they look to put together a complete season next year.