Ta'Zhawn Henry came into the 2018 season looking like he might fit in occasionally as a change-of-pace back.

But primary Texas Tech running backs Da'Leon Ward and Tre King each missed their second game in a row Saturday, and Henry made the most of his shot at extended playing time. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound freshman from Houston Lamar carried 24 times for 111 yards and four touchdowns as the Red Raiders beat Houston 63-49 at Jones AT&T Stadium.

 

For the second week in a row, senior DeMarcus Felton and the true freshmen, Henry and SaRodorick Thompson, have had to pick up the slack.

Ward still figures to be the focal point when healthy, but Henry has six touchdowns in two games.

"We wanted competition, and that's what we got," Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "Felton is doing a nice job, being a senior leader stepping in. Ta'Zhawn is very explosive. SaRodorick can give us a good change of pace. So when Da'Leon and Tre get back, we keep the competition going, and the best players are going to play."

Ward is dealing with a groin injury. After Tech's 77-0 blowout of Lamar the week before, Kingsbury said Ward could have played. On Saturday, he said Ward had a setback early in the week in preparation for Houston.

Next men up

Tech played most of the game with Dawson Deaton at left tackle and Jacob Hines at left guard after they came in to relieve left tackle Travis Bruffy and left guard Madison Akamnonu in the first half.

BBruffy missed the Lamar game with an ankle injury. Akamnonu got hurt when Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver blew up a play, causing center Paul Stawarz to roll up on Akamnonu's lower leg.

"They've done a nice job," Kingsbury said of Deaton and Hines. "We feel like they can come in and us not skip a beat."

Asked whether Bruffy aggravated his injury or didn't look mobile enough, Kingsbury said, "We know we have conference coming up, and we were just trying to be smart about it."

Controversial play

Houston tied the game at 35 with a touchdown on its first series of the second half, a drive fueled by a 31-yard trick-play pass from receiver Marquez Stevenson to wide receiver Keith Corbin. With second-and-23 from the 29-yard line, quarterback D'Eriq King threw to Stevenson, who was in the right slot on the line of scrimmage.

Stevenson wheeled to his left, dodged defensive tackle Preston Gordon as he retreated to the 22 and lofted a throw over multiple defenders to an open Corbin.

The play appeared to be illegal, with two forward passes, but wasn't flagged or reviewed.

"I didn't see it," Kingsbury said. "It was an unbelievable play design if it was legal. If they kept all those linemen from going downfield and that's what they wanted to do, I've never seen that. It was ingenious and it worked.

"If they were both forward (passes), then obviously it shouldn't have worked, but I thought it was a great play design."

Hurting at safety

Preseason all-Big 12 safety Jah'Shawn Johnson (shoulder) missed his third game in a row for Tech. At least the Red Raiders expect Johnson back soon.

Houston safety Garrett Davis suffered a broken left foot in the first quarter that's expected to sideline him for the season. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior had two interceptions and two pass breakups in the Cougars' first two games.

Paying respects

A moment of silence was observed before the game for Jay Crofoot, a longtime donor and fundraiser for both Texas Tech and Kansas State. Crofoot, who turned 91 this month, died Thursday. He was the namesake of the Crofoot Cup, an annual golf tournament the day before Tech-KSU games for supporters of the two schools.

Crofoot was honored with the Distinguished West Texan award at the 2016 National Football Foundation Tech chapter banquet.

Former Red Raider Club director Steve Uryasz said during the ceremony, "It’s rare you have one donor who’s had that much impact on two major institutions."

Tech also had an on-field recognition for family members of the late Gabe Rivera, the former Red Raiders' All-America defensive lineman. Rivera, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, died in July at age 57.

In brief

The 63 points allowed by Houston was the most scored on the Cougars since a 72-42 loss at SMU in 2012. ... Tech had five plays of 30 yards or longer: three catches by Antoine Wesley and one each by Ja'Deion High and T.J. Vasher. Houston, which came into the game with nine offensive plays of 30-plus yards, added four, including 57- and 79-yard touchdown passes from D'Eriq King to Marquez Stevenson. Stevenson already had 60- and 51-yard runs and a 57-yard catch in the first two games.