Patrick Mahomes threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns, two each to Ian Sadler and Devin Lauderdale, to lead Texas Tech past Sam Houston State 59-45 on Saturday.
The sophomore also ran for 48 yards on five carries.
Jakeem Grant ran for his third career kickoff return for a TD on a 94-yarder. He also scored the Red Raiders (1-0) first TD on a 3-yard run.
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Mahomes completed 33 of 53 passes with one interception. That pick led to the first of two TDs by Sam Houston State's Donavan Williams.
Lauderdale finished with 150 yards on eight catches.
The Bearkats (0-1), a Football Championship Subdivision team, stayed close in the first half but were shut out in the third quarter.
Sam Houston's Jared Johnson completed 18 of 28 passes for 144 yards with an interception. Backup Jerimiah Briscoe threw a 29-yard TD pass to Davion Davis.
Mahomes showed his mobility -- the facet of his play that coach Kliff Kingsbury likes a lot -- in the pocket early in the second quarter. On third and 4 from the Bearkats 10, he looked like he was going to run up the middle but then backed up and went to his right. When that path closed he reversed course and scampered until he saw Sadler just across the goal line. Mahomes squared his shoulders and fired the ball to his receiver to put the Red Raiders up 21-14.
Mahomes' lone pick came when one of his receivers tipped the ball and it was intercepted by Alfonzo McMillian. Two plays later Williams scored on a 1-yard run.
It didn't appear that Grant would be able to return the kickoff far after he got trapped near the far sideline. But he cut back just past his own 20 and ran crossfield to the end zone.
It was the first kickoff return for a TD in a season opener since 2001 against New Mexico and the first since the 2013 Holiday Bowl (Reginald Davis).
Texas Tech, which tied for 116th in turnover margin last season, got something Saturday it rarely got last year: a positive turnover margin. All three came in the second half. J. J. Gaines picked off Johnson in the third quarter and returned it 47 yards for a score, and Thierry Nguema picked off Briscoe in the fourth.
Ohio State transfer linebacker Mike Mitchell recovered a fumble in the third quarter and Gaines got one in the fourth.