The dark clouds and rain shower that moved in over Jones AT&T Stadium right at game time were no omen for Kliff Kingsbury’s bunch.
In fact, it didn’t throw off his Texas Tech team at all.
Tech’s 28-point first quarter tied a school record and the Red Raiders went on to clobber Stephen F. Austin 61-13 Saturday night in a home opener that started nearly an hour late because of lightning in the area.
"The kids seemed loose and ready to go," Kingsbury said, "so it wasn't really an issue."
Tech led 28-7 less than 12 minutes into the game as Baker Mayfield threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter. And Tech was up 45-7 at halftime, its best first half in the last eight years. It turned into two games in one: The Tech starters put a rout in place, and the backups built on it in the second half.
The Red Raiders finished the night with 731 yards of total offense.
So much for that storm delay.
"It's a little agitating, because it hadn't rained in Lubbock in about four weeks," tight end Jace Amaro said, "and then 6 o'clock comes and it wants to get a little cloud out there. Maybe we can get some of those for practice this week.
"That's just one thing you have to deal with, but I felt like we dealt with it really well this game."
The Goin’ Band from Raiderland was on the field for the national anthem when the rain and lightning threat started, prompting the band to scramble off the field and many fans to leave the bleachers for cover under the stadium.
After the delay, the Red Raiders came out as if nothing had happened, especially Mayfield. The energetic freshman walk-on continued the storybook start to his career, completing 21 of 30 for 367 yards with no interceptions for the second game in a row. With Tech up big at the break and the Tech-TCU game coming up in five days, Kingsbury inserted Davis Webb for the second half.
"Having a short turnaround, we wanted to get our starters out and try to get them some rest," Kingsbury said.
Stephen F. Austin (0-2) had hoped to follow last week’s trend of FCS teams upsetting FBS teams, but that dream vanished right off the bat.
Mayfield threw touchdown passes of 42 yards to Jakeem Grant and 25 yards to Amaro, and Kenny Williams ran for touchdowns of 1 and 18 yards as Tech built a 28-7 lead by the 3:44 mark of the first quarter. Williams’ second TD came two plays after noseguard Jackson Richards recovered a fumble at the SFA 26-yard line.
Tech ran for 237 yards, a week after the rushing game was a sore spot at SMU.
"The big focus throughout the week was establishing the run game," Williams said. "We have to show our opponents we can run the ball as well as pass it. I felt like we did that tonight."
The Lumberjacks interrupted the early onslaught only with a trick-play touchdown. Down 21-0, they called a double-reverse pass, and wide receiver Tyler Boyd hit fellow wideout Mike Brooks in stride up the visitors’ sideline for a 75-yard score.
Then it was back to the blowout.
"They came out here and really took it to us and played a heck of a ballgame in every way," SFA coach J.C. Harper said. "(Tech is) a great football team that you can tell is going to have a great season. Very well-coached. Everything they did seemed to be really good."
Tech also brandished one of the edges FBS teams have on their FCS counterparts: More options at most positions.
With “Y” inside receiver Jordan Davis sidelined by a hamstring injury, Amaro barely came off the field early. The big tight end finished with a career high eight catches for 142 yards, taking advantage of an SFA secondary that started a sophomore and two freshmen.
"It's hard to guard all four of us at the same time," Amaro said of the receivers. "I feel like I'm starting to roll, and I feel better than I ever have. I feel like I'm starting to spin my wheels and it's going to be kind of a typical thing for me."
For as good as the Mayfield-to-Amaro combo looked, Mayfield to Bradley Marquez was about as impressive. Mayfield put some zip on a couple of fly-pattern passes to Marquez, one for 34 yards to set up a touchdown and another a 60-yard hookup that made it 35-7.
Both times, Mayfield rifled the ball in without much air under it.
"He has a lot of arm, and he definitely likes to use it," Marquez said. "It's something that we're used to."
A short field goal from Ryan Bustin and a 2-yard touchdown by DeAndre Washington increased the margin to 45-7, giving some in the crowd of 54,086 the comfort to leave early.
Kingsbury called off the dogs at halftime, using backups almost exclusively for the entire second half. That didn’t stem the tide of the game much, though. Redshirt freshman Quinton White ran 5 yards for one touchdown and broke off a 38-yard gain that positioned the Red Raiders for a Webb-to-Reginald Davis touchdown pass, which made it 61-7 after three quarters.
White wound up the leading rusher with 71 yards on five carries.
Tech (2-0) opens Big 12 play at home Thursday, hosting No. 24 TCU (1-1) in a 6:30 p.m. game on ESPN.
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