Texas Tech rallies to beat Minnesota 34-31

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 29, 2012 at 6:15 am •  Published: December 29, 2012
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HOUSTON (AP) — Texas Tech has had a difficult month since coach Tommy Tuberville left abruptly for the job at Cincinnati.

The struggles continued on Friday night, and the Red Raiders trailed Minnesota by a touchdown with just more than a minute left in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

That was when seniors D.J. Johnson and Seth Doege came through with big plays to help Texas Tech to a 34-31 win.

After Doege connected with Eric Ward on a 35-yard scoring play to pull the Red Raiders even at 31 with just more than a minute remaining, Johnson returned an interception 39 yards and Ryan Bustin made a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give the Red Raiders the win.

"We've overcome a lot of adversity," Johnson said. "To end my last play like that is a blessing."

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.

"Things weren't always going our way ... but we kept fighting and put ourselves in a position to win the game," Doege said.

The Red Raiders (8-5) got their third straight bowl victory to end their trying season on a high note.

Texas Tech has hired Kliff Kingsbury to replace Tuberville, but interim coach Chris Thomsen led the team against Minnesota (6-7). Kingsbury was at the game, watching from a suite.

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 Tech coach Spike Dykes.

"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."

Philip Nelson threw for 138 yards and two scores for the Gophers, who were in a bowl game for the first time since 2009.

"I think our kids played hard tonight; they played their guts out, and I appreciate that," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. "We just couldn't make a play at a critical time."

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

A 1-yard touchdown pass from 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 the tight end Jace Amaro when he was ejected for throwing a punch.