LUBBOCK, Texas — About 20 rows behind Texas Tech’s north end zone, Hortencia Lawrence nervously watched her son Kendial Lawrence.
She slouched her shoulders and leaned slightly forward while tightly gripping a digital camera as she watched her son receive a handoff from Missouri’s 29-yard line.
When Kendial Lawrence broke past the line of scrimmage and cut toward the left sideline, Hortencia Lawrence began jogging in place. Her black sneakers rumbled the cold metal bleachers. Three seats away, Kendial Lawrence’s older brother, Kendrick Lawrence, let out three barks as his brother got closer and closer to the end zone.
With each of Kendial Lawrence's strides, Hortencia Lawrence picked up her own pace. By the time he made it 71 yards down the field for a touchdown, she was in a full, yet standstill, sprint.
“Wooooooh!” the proud mother screeched as her eyes filled with tears of joy.
She let out a quick fist pump before hugging everyone in sight. The frayed, oversized black-and-gold scarf around her neck bounced up and down.
The touchdown run was Kendial Lawrence’s longest of his career and the highlight of his best game as a Tiger. Despite his effort, Missouri fell 24-17 to Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock. He finished the game with 96 yards and one touchdown on six carries.
“I’m still speechless,” Hortencia Lawrence said. “Not every kid gets this kind of opportunity.”
The only thing Hortencia Lawrence said she needed was a giant sign that read, “That’s my son,” so the other 55,000 fans in attendance would know.
“It’s really crazy just to see him out there,” she said.
But she wasn’t surprised by her son’s performance on Saturday night.
“His senior year of high school, he had more than 40 touchdowns, so we’re kind of used to it,” Hortencia Lawrence said.
When she saw Kendial Lawrence had only one man to beat on his long touchdown run, she knew he was gone.
“When he did that cut, I knew they couldn’t catch him,” she said. “I’ve seen that move before.”
Hortencia Lawrence remembers watching her son make defenders miss when he was 5 years old and playing in a Pop Warner football league. Despite her confidence, she said she couldn’t fight off her maternal instincts before Saturday's game.
“I’m always nervous,” she said. “I couldn’t sleep last night because of the butterflies.”
There’s no solution to the nerves other than watching Kendial Lawrence play, so in the morning, Hortencia Lawrence put on her custom made No. 4 jersey and drove with Kendial Lawrence’s brother, aunt and cousin from Dallas to Lubbock.
“I drive like a bat out of hell, so it only took us four and a half hours,” Hortencia Lawrence said.
Getting the chance to watch her son play in person always makes long trips easier.
“It’s definitely worth the drive,” she said. “I would have driven if it was in Florida.”