AUSTIN, Texas — Nic Shimonek came off the bench in the fourth quarter to throw two touchdown passes, including the game-winner with 1:47 left, as Texas Tech roared from behind to beat Texas 27-23 in a Big 12 game on Friday night at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
The win made the Red Raiders (6-6) eligible for a bowl game and likely saved the job of coach Kliff Kingsbury.
The loss denied the Longhorns (6-6) a chance to clinch their first winning season since 2013. Texas secured a bowl berth for the first time since 2014 by winning at West Virginia on Nov. 18.
Tech trailed 23-13 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter when Shimonek, who despite being eighth in FBS in passing yardage spent the first three quarters on the bench, engineered a six-play, 75-yard touchdown march, with the score coming on a 13-yard pass to T.J. Vasher that brought the Red Raiders within 23-20.
Shimonek then passed Texas Tech into the lead by hitting Cameron Batson for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:47 left. The score came after the Red Raiders’ Justus Parker intercepted Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger and returned the pick 55 yards to the Texas 14.
Texas struck first, using machine-like precision to move 75 yards in just four plays to a 27-yard touchdown pass from Ehlinger to Armanti Foreman. The Longhorns began the drive with a pass from wide receiver Lil’Jordan Humphrey to Ehlinger that gained 27 yards and set the tone for the game.
The Red Raiders answered late in the first quarter when quarterback McLane Carter ran 1 yard for a TD at the end of an 81-yard march that featured two receptions by Keke Coutee for 68 yards.
Texas Tech added a 32-yard field goal by Clayton Hatfield on the second snap of the second quarter to move to a 10-7 lead.
The Longhorns’ Joshua Rowland tied the score at 10 with a 20-yard field goal with 8:07 to play in the second quarter after Texas used 14 plays to drive just 37 yards to the Tech 1 but couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone.
Texas rerook the lead on its ensuing possession with a 9-yard scoring run by Daniel Young. The score came on the first play after Kris Boyd intercepted Carter and returned it 41 yards.
Late in the second quarter, Davante Davis nabbed the Longhorns’ second interception of the half to set the table for Rowland’s 19-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the half, staking Texas to a 20-10 lead at intermission.
Hatfield cut the lead to 20-13 on the first possession of the third quarter with a 34-yard field goal at the end of an 11-play, 54-yard drive.
Rowland responded with a 40-yard field with 14:23 to play to re-establish its 10-point advantage. Then Shimonek entered and the game flipped to the Red Raiders.