HOUSTON (AP) — Texas Tech coach Mike Leach started it off by throwing out the first pitch at the Astros-Pirates game on Friday night.
Graham Harrell kept on pitching Saturday with a personal best six touchdown passes, three to freshman Michael Crabtree, and Texas Tech scored 35 unanswered points for a 59-24 victory over the Rice Owls Saturday in a battle of former Southwest Conference rivals.
“The biggest positive was this was a three-sided deal,” Leach said. “We had huge contributions from defense, offense and special teams. The thing we need to work on is consistency from start to finish. We need to do it at the same time and do it for 60 minutes.”
The Red Raiders (3-0) beat their third straight Conference USA opponent. Rice dropped to 0-3. The two teams last played in 1995 when both were in the SWC.
Crabtree, in just his third college game, has eight touchdowns. He caught 11 passes for 244 yards, 19 yards shy of the NCAA freshman single-game receiving record. He had touchdown catches of 74, 9 and 25 yards. Crabtree has gained at least 150 yards in receptions in all three games this season.
Leach said he was unaware Crabtree was closing in on the record.
“If I had known, I would have thrown him a curl,” Leach said. “I didn’t know, but if I had we would have gotten it for him.”
Harrell completed 28-of-37 passes for 414 yards. His six touchdown passes tied the Rice Stadium record of six touchdown passes by Gary Kubiak of Texas A&M in 1981.
“I thought we came out and executed,” Harrell said. “We came out and the first two drives where we had bad field position but we got a couple of quick scores. I thought we executed well the whole game.”
Harrell got the Raiders off to a quick 14-0 first quarter lead with touchdown passes of 11 yards to Shannon Woods and 38 yards to Grant Walker.
“The first time I met him, I knew he’d be special,” Harrell said of Crabtree. “Quarterbacking is getting the ball in the playmakers’ hands and Crab makes a lot of them. When you’ve got playmakers out there, it looks easy.”
Rice battled for a while in the first half. Clark Fangmeier kicked a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter and Chase Clement had second quarter touchdown passes of 13 yards to Toren Dixon and 47 yards to Jarett Dillard. Woods also scored on a 3-yard run in the second quarter.
Leading 21-17 midway in the second quarter, Harrell took the Raiders to five straight scores starting with Crabtree’s 74-yard pass-run play. Harrell then threw touchdown passes of 10 yards to Eric Morris and 9 yards to Crabtree. Kobey Lewis scored on a 1-yard run and Crabtree caught a 25-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
C.J. Ugokwe broke Tech’s 35-point run with a 7-yard touchdown run with 10:18 to play. Alex Trlica kicked a 39-yard field goal with 5:12 to play.