LUBBOCK, Texas — Nic Shimonek completed 14 straight passes to open his first career start. The Texas Tech quarterback didn’t cool off much the rest of the way.
Shimonek threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns while hitting on 23 of his first 24 throws and the Red Raiders opened what could be a crucial season for coach Kliff Kingsbury with a 56-10 win over Eastern Washington on Saturday.
The senior Shimonek finished 26 of 30 without an interception as the Red Raiders pulled away with three touchdowns each in the second and third quarters, capped by Willie Sykes’ 33-yard interception return for a 49-10 lead the first play after Justin Stockton’s second TD run.
“I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a very streaky guy,” said Shimonek, who went the sidelines for good late in the third quarter. “The same thing in basketball. When I was in high school, if I hit two or three shots, I might knock down the next seven and eight.”
Gage Gubrud threw for 207 yards and a touchdown for Eastern Washington, which upset Washington State in last year’s opener on the way to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs.
Texas Tech led 7-3 when Shimonek threw the first of three second-quarter touchdowns, a 75-yarder to Derrick Willies. Keke Coutee caught the other two from 68 and 17 yards, finishing with 99 yards receiving. Willies had 126 yards receiving.
“He’s got a really good supporting cast,” Kingsbury, a former Texas Tech quarterback, said of Shimonek. “When he doesn’t try to do too much and just goes through his reads and finds an open guy, he can throw it with anybody.”
Kingsbury improved to 5-0 in openers at his alma mater, but could be under pressure to keep his job since he’s just 18-26 since winning his first seven games in 2013.
“I thought some of those new guys, for the first time they were out there with the lights on, handled themselves OK,” Kingsbury said.
Aaron Best lost his coaching debut at his alma mater to the same school that beat former coach Beau Baldwin 49-24 in his debut in 2008. Best went to the same high school as Baldwin in Tacoma, Washington, and was Baldwin’s offensive line coach all nine seasons at EWU before Baldwin left to become offensive coordinator at California.
“This is not a bad Texas Tech football team,” Best said. “I’m curious to follow them along the way in their Big 12 adventure this season.”
Tech backup McLane Carter threw a 22-yard pass to Quan Shorts to complete the scoring early in the fourth quarter as the Red Raiders outgained Eastern Washington 626-301.
Terence Grady had 93 yards receiving and EWU’s only touchdown, a 22-yarder in the second quarter.