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Texas Tech players celebrated with the championship trophy after winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Dave Einsel, Associated Press - Ap

Texas Tech overcomes mistakes against Gophers

  • Article by: KRISTIE RIEKEN
  • Associated Press
  • December 29, 2012 - 4:19 AM

HOUSTON - Seth Doege and D.J. Johnson both made mistakes that cost Texas Tech on Friday night.

But with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, the two seniors stepped up to save the game.

Johnson, who got beat on a long play in the third quarter, returned an interception 39 yards and Ryan Bustin made a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give Texas Tech a 34-31 comeback victory over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Doege found Eric Ward on a short pass, and he outran a defender for a 35-yard scoring play to pull the Red Raiders even at 31 with just more than a minute remaining.

Michael Carter intercepted two of Doege's passes in the fourth quarter before the tying score, but Minnesota couldn't convert either of the turnovers into points.

The Red Raiders (8-5) got their third straight bowl win to wrap up a month that began with coach Tommy Tuberville's abrupt departure for the job at Cincinnati. Texas Tech has hired Kliff Kingsbury to replace him, but interim coach Chris Thomsen led the team against Minnesota (6-7). Kingsbury was at the game, watching from a suite.

"More than anything I credit those players," Thomsen said of Johnson and Doege. "They really held it together ... to get to make those plays after they struggled. They kept their poise and confidence and continued to stay in there and battle."

Johnson said it was fitting that they dealt with so much adversity on Friday night considering the tough month they've had.

"As a team we just continued to fight and have faith and work together," Johnson said. "This is a huge win for us as a group."

Doege threw for 271 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score in front of a crowd that included 1977 Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell and former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes.

"That drive where we went and tied the game, we finally started clicking," Doege said. "It happened at the right time — probably should have happened sooner."

The Red Raiders returned to a bowl after having their 18-season bowl streak snapped last year.

A 1-yard touchdown pass from Philip Nelson to Drew Goodger gave Minnesota a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Texas Tech led 24-17 at halftime, but couldn't do anything offensively in the second half until the last couple of minutes. It was an ugly game for the Red Raiders, who had 13 penalties for 135 yards and lost tight end Jace Amaro when he was ejected for throwing a punch.

"There was really no excuse for it," Thomsen said of the penalties. "We didn't play very smart."

Jakeem Grant ran for what was initially ruled a Tech touchdown late in the third quarter. Amaro threw a punch at Derrick Wells in the end zone on the play and was ejected.

After the penalty, the play was reviewed and overturned, as Grant fumbled the ball out of bounds short of the goal line. Doege threw an incomplete pass before Tech appeared to make a 32-yard field goal. But the Red Raiders had a false start penalty on the play and had to kick again and this time the Gophers blocked it.

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