LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Sam Ehlinger threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey with 21 seconds left and No. 15 Texas beat Texas Tech 41-34 after blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
The Longhorns (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) snapped a two-game skid that had cost them the Big 12 lead. They stayed a game behind co-leaders No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 West Virginia with two games left to determine who plays in the conference championship game Dec. 1. Next up for the Longhorns is No. 23 Iowa State, the team they are tied with for third place.
Ehlinger completed 22 of 34 passes for 312 yards with four touchdowns and broke the Big 12 record for most consecutive passes without an interception. The sophomore extended his streak of passes without a pick to 280, breaking the mark of 273 set by former West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith.
Texas went 75 yards in seven plays for the winning score after Texas Tech (5-5, 3-4) scored 17 points in just over 5 1/2 minutes that included recovering an onside kick.
“We knew we were going to go down and finish it and that’s what we did,” Ehlinger said.
“We were in the same position in the Cotton Bowl (against Oklahoma), and we went down and kicked a field goal to win the game,” coach Tom Herman said. “Nobody on the team wants anybody other than No. 11 behind center in situations like that. They believe in him. He was calm, cool and collected. He was aggressive, but not reckless.”
Ehlinger started the final drive with runs of 3 and 18 yards, had a couple of short completions before a 12-yard run that set up his game-winning pass to Lil’Jordan Humphrey.
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The Red Raiders had tied it on Jett Duffey’s fourth TD pass, a 9-yarder to Antoine Wesley with 1:45 left, before finishing with their third loss in a row.
Lil’Jordan Humphrey had eight catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and Devin Duvernay also caught two TDs.
Duffey had 524 total yards in his second start in place of injured Alan Bowman, completing 37 of 47 passes for 444 yards and running 17 times for 80 yards. But he also had three crucial turnovers before the late comeback, throwing a pick near the end zone and fumbling twice on runs that ended inside the Texas 20.
“I thought it would have been easy to fold after that last fumble, but he competes his tail off,” coach Kliff Kingsbury said about Duffey.
Bowman had another four-night hospital stay after taking a hit in last week’s 51-46 loss to Oklahoma, leading to a recurrence of a partially collapsed lung the standout true freshman initially suffered earlier this season.
When the Red Raiders tried to convert fourth-and-1 from their own 34 before halftime, Duffey was immediately stuffed and Texas needed only four plays before Keaontay Ingram’s 2-yard TD run to go up 17-7.
Wesley had eight catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns for Tech. T.J. Vasher had two TD catches, including a leaping 5-yarder that capped an impressive opening drive of the game for Tech.
Texas: The Longhorns were coming off consecutive losses by a combined four points. Their last four wins haven’t been overwhelming — by a combined 21 points, with the win at Tech the largest margin in that span. Ehlinger was calm in leading Texas on the winning drive, and it helps to have Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who can go up and get balls over defenders like he did on the game-winner.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders missed a chance for consecutive wins over Texas for the first time in 20 years. As much as the win in the regular-season finale in Austin last year likely saved coach Kliff Kingsbury’s job, and got them bowl eligible, this loss could cast doubt on his future again. The former Red Raiders quarterback is now 35-38 in his six seasons as coach, and they still need one more win to get to their 16th bowl since 2000.
Texas is home Saturday night to play Iowa State, which has a five-game Big 12 winning streak.
Texas Tech plays at Kansas State next Saturday.