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Seniors Potts, Leong lead Red Raiders to victory in TicketCity Bowl

The 2006 Abilene High School graduates, who began playing together in third grade, teamed up to lead Tech past Northwestern.

Posted: January 2, 2011 - 12:58am
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Texas Tech defenders Sam Fehoko (41) and Chris Perry (99) celebrate a sack of Northwestern quarterback Evan Watkins, left, during the Red Raiders’ 45-38 win in the TicketCity Bowl on Saturday in Dallas.  Miranda Grubbs
Miranda Grubbs
Texas Tech defenders Sam Fehoko (41) and Chris Perry (99) celebrate a sack of Northwestern quarterback Evan Watkins, left, during the Red Raiders’ 45-38 win in the TicketCity Bowl on Saturday in Dallas.
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DALLAS – As Tommy Tuberville talked about Eric Stephens after Saturday’s TicketCity Bowl, Taylor Potts and Lyle Leong kept grinning at each other.

Then, as soon as the coach finished and without being prompted, Potts took a playful jab at his favorite receiver.

“Lyle almost had his first tackle on Eric’s run,” said the Texas Tech quarterback, referring to an 86-yard touchdown in which Leong nearly tripped up his teammate near the goal line. “I was rooting for you, man.”

The longtime friends and teammates could afford to laugh about the near mishap,

and somewhat embarrassing moment for Leong, because they had just concluded their college careers with arguably their best performances as Red Raiders. The 2006 Abilene High School graduates, who began playing together in third grade, teamed up to lead Tech to a 45-38 win against Northwestern in front of 40,121 fans at Cotton Bowl Stadium.

Potts was named most valuable player after passing for 369 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for a score. Leong had game highs of 10 receptions for 118 yards and two TDs, and he also surpassed Jarrett Hicks for second place on Tech’s career touchdown receptions list.

“It’s a great feeling going out with a good game and with somebody you grew up with your whole life,” Leong said. “At the same time, it’s pretty sad that this is the last time I’m going to play with him.

“It’s really sad, but at the same time, I’m glad. Not many people can say that they’ve accomplished what we’ve accomplished through each stage in our life. It’s just been a blessing, and I just thank God for putting him in my life.”

Potts echoed the sentiment, saying it’s been a “privilege” to play alongside Leong. The latter caught a 6-yard TD pass to give Tech a 24-6 lead late in the first half, and scored the team’s last touchdown in the fourth quarter when he hauled in a third-down pass, angled toward the sideline and extended the ball inside the pylon before going out of bounds.

“It makes my job pretty easy when you’ve got a guy like Lyle catching those third-down passes that only he could (catch) and then actually turn it into a touchdown,” Potts said. “Our entire career he’s made some really good plays, so it’s been a lot of fun.”

Potts, who also credited Tech’s other receivers, running backs and offensive linemen for what he called one of the unit’s best games of the year, had an especially good time. Northwestern’s pass rush barely touched him, his four passing TDs matched Tech’s bowl-game record, and he got to be a receiver/running back late in the second quarter.

Potts threw a screen pass to Austin Zouzalik, who immediately threw it back to Potts, and the quarterback waltzed into the end zone untouched for a 13-yard score. It went down as a rushing TD because Zouzalik threw a backward pass.

“It’s been a great week,” Potts said. “It’s been a great five years. It’s gone by really fast, but I was really glad we won today.”

So was Leong, who afterward was still trying to come to terms with the idea that he and Potts might never again compete together on a football field, after having stuck together since playing pickup games in a park when they were kids.

“It was an honor alongside Taylor,” Leong said. “Hopefully we’ll meet up again.”

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Getting smarter

Not a quote from Tuberville. Focus on the players.

And, congrats to two players who played what Tuberville says he wants to junk, pass first football, to get the win. Tubby passed 65.6% of the game to beat a team that had a freshman qb playing with almost no game experience rack up 38 points. The last time Northwestern won a bowl game was 1949.

After a year of "putting in" his defense, Tuberville's defense exceeded its already horrendous 30.6 points per game average and the game had to be won by the offense going back to the Leach instilled pass first mentality.

The defense goes backwards after a full season under Tubby. And the offense outscores a freshman qb to win the game by passing 65% of the time. Tell me again what Tuberville adds? Besides being more willing to placate Mr Hance and Sowell personally?

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here we go again

another newspaper article with no giant photo of The Tuber Man??

just the players' photo.

What did they have to do with anything? (except in articles where the game was a loss)?

We Want Tuber's photo & statements (only) for the games we win.

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Another Article That Does Not Address the Issues

Why not report the turning point of the game? Here is a game where Tuberville made the worst game decision in the history of athletics. With a three touchdown lead, with all the momentum, late in the 3rd quarter, Tuberville attempted an onside kick. If you did not see the game, I promise you, I'm not make this up. (sic) Northwestern scored in two plays and got back in the game. THERE'S MORE. Previously this season, Tuberville had tried two onside kicks. BOTH RESULTED IN TOUCHDOWNS FOR THE RECEIVING TEAM. Now folks, if the Hance Hatchet Gang will fire a coach without cause, what do they do when the coach pulls the worst coaching blunder in the history of athletics? AND WHY DIDN'T ZUVIE THE LAP DOG MENTION THIS IN HIS ARTICLE? (This terrible decision was reported as virtually the entire game writeup in THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS.)

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Enough already

You guys take a positive article about two seniors that had a fantastic final college game and instead of being proud for these guys you decide to use this forum to continue to spew your vile hatred hoping to attract more losers to your pity party. This just in: MIKE LEACH IS NOT COMING BACK. Why don't you guys go on Maryland's blog and spread some hatred at their AD for not hiring the pirate. They obviously must be as stupid as Hance, Myers and the boys. As for me; My give a d@#n is busted.

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I am glad this season is over

I am glad this season is over so we can put this behind us and start supporting the team without distractions. With all the craziness, this year's team was off last year' total by 1 win. That is amazing considering all the distraction and injuries. You could say that with Leach they would have won 9-10 wins this year and I might agree. But the fact is that he was not and he has a host of problems he has to deal with before he coaches again. Most importantly, admitting his fault. Until he does, he will continue to beg for interviews. I am excited to see what a Tuberville recruiting class will do (highest ranked ever for Tech!) For those who are still upset by the handling of Leach, follow him or forget him, Go Tech!

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