Dec 28, 2021; Memphis, TN, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders quarterback Donovan Smith (7) warms up prior to the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Liberty Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

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Texas Tech runs past Mississippi State in Liberty Bowl

Donovan Smith ran for a touchdown, threw for another and directed an impressive performance for Texas Tech’s offense in a 34-7 rout of Mississippi State on Tuesday night at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

Smith completed 15 of 28 passes for 252 yards and Texas Tech (7-6) completed its first winning season since 2015 by totaling 512 yards of offense against former coach Mike Leach, who was 84-43 with the Red Raiders from 2000-09.

The Red Raiders racked up a season-high 260 rushing yards and scored three rushing TDs in their final game under interim coach Sonny Cumbie. The former Texas Tech quarterback, who led the team to an upset of Aaron Rodgers and California in the 2004 Holiday Bowl, is headed for the head-coaching job at Louisiana Tech.

Red Raiders running back Tahj Brooks gained 107 yards on 16 attempts, including a 19-yard TD run early in the first quarter. SaRodorick Thompson gained 80 yards on 14 carries and had a 1-yard TD run midway through the fourth.

J.J. Sparkman caught a 14-yard TD near the end of the third quarter and Jonathan Garibay booted field goals of 31 and 26 yards in the first half as the Red Raiders easily won the first meeting between the schools since 1970.

Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers was 32 of 53 for 290 yards. He was unable to throw for 300 yards for the 11th straight game and also faced constant pressure as the Bulldogs (7-6) turned in a disappointing showing after winning four of their final six regular-season games.

Lineman Tyree Wilson recorded two of Texas Tech’s four sacks and the Red Raiders also intercepted Rogers once and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.

The Red Raiders needed just seven plays and 2:20 to take a 7-0 lead on Brooks’ TD and went up 10-0 lead on Garibay’s first field goal with 3:03 left in the opening period. Garibay kicked another field goal with 13 seconds left in the half to give the Red Raiders a 13-7 lead.

Smith’s TD run with 9:03 left in the third made it 20-7, and consecutive sacks by Wilson set up Sparkman’s leaping catch with two seconds remaining in the third for a 27-7 edge.

Thompson’s TD run early in the fourth made it 34-7 shortly after Rogers was intercepted in the red zone by defensive back Eric Monroe.

–Field Level Media

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