The Texas women’s college scene has been unpredictable this season. Heading into the fall, it was assumed that Texas A&M would be the strongest team, followed by Texas Tech, then University of Texas. It only took one game to prove assumptions erroneous, as UT defeated Tech two weeks ago.
Yesterday, Tech looked for some redemption against A&M, and they found it in a 29-15 victory.
“We changed a few things on the offensive side of the ball in hopes of getting some more points on the board, which we have struggled with this year,” Texas Tech coach John Middleton said. “Two weeks usually isn’t enough time to really implement a new offensive scheme, but these players have really worked hard to get it right. We still have a few kinks to work out, but for the most part they get the idea.”
Tech has been light all season, and only 16 players traveled to College Station, Texas. Middleton had re-emphasized fitness over the previous two weeks, and that little extra proved invaluable in the final quarter of play, especially considering the level of physicality that kicked off the match.
It took Tech 15 minutes to take the first lead of the game, and it came and the hands of center Kat Gray, who scored two tries on the day. Flyhalf Savannah Gates slotted the conversion for the 7-0 lead.
The Aggies responded in turn, and returned the ball from their own red zone for scores in the 25- and 30-minute marks to take a 10-7 lead into the break.
Gray struck again early in the second half to put Tech ahead again, 12-10, but A&M stole it back as their forwards marched down the field for an unconverted try at the 60-minute mark, 15-12.
Having lost the lead for a second time, Tech relied on their superior conditioning to turn the tables on the Aggies. Pinning A&M in its own end, a knock-on awarded Tech with a 35-meter scrum. No. 8 Krystal Duzong picked from the base and took it all the way for a try. Duzong repeated the effort in the 70th minute, when the Tech pack stole a scrum from 10 meters out, and the backrow player fought her way into the corner, 24-15.
A&M threatened to score until the very end, and methodically worked their way back into scoring position. Poised to score, Gates stole possession in the loose and booted the ball 40 meters downfield. Tech was able to regain possession in the gather and relieve some pressure. A&M’s death knell occurred when prop Ashley Watson crashed over the line for a closing-minutes try, 29-15. The win marked the first time Tech beat A&M, ever.
“It was a very clean match with few penalties,” Middleton said. “It was a very physical match, and A&M made us work for every inch we gained on the pitch.
Tech’s fall season is over, and the Cup series will end with the A&M v Texas match this Saturday. Tech’s next match will be against A&M in February, but in the meantime, the team can savor this historical first win.