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Texas Tech Fights Through Mistakes to Beat Minnesota in Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Ashley Wirz, 1340TheFan.com

Another bowl game against Minnesota, another come from behind win for Texas Tech Red Raider Football. Texas Tech beat Minnesota 34-31 Friday night in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas at Reliant Stadium.

While Texas Tech’s 7-point come-from-behind win Friday night wasn’t as dramatic as the 2006 Insight Bowl against Minnesota, the loss was still hard to take for the Golden Gophers. Golden Gopher starting quarterback Philip Nelson summed up the loss by saying, “It sucked.”

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill was proud of his team despite losing, “We’ve got a young football team. They played their guts out; we just couldn’t make a play at a critical time and that happens sometimes.”

Both D.J. Johnson and Seth Doege overcame second half mistakes in the Red Raiders win. Johnson was burned on a long pass reception in the third quarter and Doege threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Texas Tech interim head coach Chris Thomsen said he told Johnson to “go make a play” after that third quarter series.

Johnson and the Red Raider defense came up with a huge stop on the Golden Gophers with 3:24 left in the game. Tech was down 31-24 and Doege had just thrown his second interception of the quarter. With the stop, Minnesota punted the ball and Doege got another chance to tie the game. Seven plays later, Doege connected with Eric Ward on a 35 yard touchdown pass to cap off an 82 yard drive.

After the game, Ward recapped his game-tying touchdown reception, “I see there was no (free) safety over the top. I knew they were bringing pressure and I knew I had man coverage with the corner. I ran the route and gave the stick at the top of the route.”

Johnson’s redeeming play was in the final minute of the game. With the game now tied at 31, the Golden Gophers were trying to get in position for a game-winning score. On a 3rd and 7 Johnson intercepted a Philip Nelson pass deep, downfield, and returned it 41 yards to the Minnesota 22 yard line.

Thomsen said of Doege and Johnson, “For those two guys to make those plays. To go out (on a winning) note. I’m so happy for them.”

The Red Raiders now had 43 seconds to kick a game-winning field goal. Three plays later, Ryan Bustin’s 28 yard field goal won the game as time expired. Bustin afterwards said his main concern was not getting the kick blocked.  A third quarter field goal attempt for Bustin was blocked and it rolled into the end zone.

Ashley Wirz, 1340TheFan.com

Thomsen also gave credit to assistant coach Sonny Cumbie who called the offensive plays in the game. “Sonny did a great job and kept his composure (late in the game). It’s what you would expect from an old quarterback. He did a tremendous job of managing the clock (for the game-winning score).”

The game started off in Minnesota’s favor. Minnesota won the coin toss and elected to receive. Their opening drive ate up the first six and a half minutes of the game and netted a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.  However, the lead was short-lived as Jakeem Grant took the Minnesota kickoff 99 yards down the field for a  Red Raider touchdown.  Grant found a seam on the far sideline and his speed made the rest of the return a formality.

Chippy, heated, play was present the whole game. Nine personal foul penalties were called; five on Tech, four on Minnesota. Most of the personal fouls came from lineman on both teams.

Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro was ejected in the third quarter after punching Minnesota safety Derrick Wells in the end zone. Amaro was blocking Wells and took him down to the ground. His left hand was firmly planted on Wells facemask and he threw the punch with his right.  The official in the back corner of the end zone saw the infraction and immediately threw his flag.  After the game, Amaro tweeted out an apology for getting ejected. Friday’s game was Amaro’s first action since the West Virginia game.

After the Jakeem Grant kickoff return, Minnesota and Tech both exchanged touchdowns and the Red Raiders were up 14-10 to end the first quarter.

The offenses slowed down in the second quarter and a 17-17 tie was broken by the Red Raiders late in the second quarter. Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege scrambled on a 4 yard touchdown to make the score 24-17 with five seconds left before halftime.

Minnesota tied the game in the third quarter at 24 with a Philip Nelson 17 yard  touchdown pass to Devin Crawford-Tufts. The Golden Gophers final lead of the game came with 13:07 left in the game. Philip Nelson’s second touchdown pass was a one yard throw to Drew Goodger.

The teams combined for seven punts during the game and there were only three turnovers. Two interceptions for Tech and one for Minnesota.

Doege was named MVP for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He went 31/45 passing for 271 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions.

Texas Tech finishes the 2012 season with an (8-5) record. Minnesota’s record, (6-7). Attendance was 50,386 and the time of the game was 3:47.

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