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Texas Tech scores twice in last 70 seconds to edge Minnesota

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- Texas Tech senior quarterback Seth Doege had one last chance to redeem himself against Minnesota, and he made the most of it.

Doege, who earlier threw interceptions on consecutive possessions in his final college game, led the Red Raiders on a game-tying, fourth-quarter touchdown drive, and then moved Texas Tech into chip-shot field-goal range.

Red Raiders kicker Ryan Bustin booted a 28-yard field goal with no time remaining, and Texas Tech grasped a 34-31 victory over the Gophers in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Friday at Reliant Stadium.

Doege hit Eric Ward for a 35-yard touchdown with 1:10 remaining to tie the game at 31.

"We shot ourselves in the foot the whole football game," Doege said. "That drive where we tied up the game, we finally started clicking. It probably should've happened a lot quicker."

Texas Tech's defense followed with perhaps its biggest takeaway of the season, as senior D.J. Johnson intercepted Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson's third-down pass and returned it to the Gophers' 22.

"To get that pick, and on my last play, that's a blessing," Johnson said.

From there, Doege threw to Tyson Williams for a 9-yard gain to the Minnesota 13, and running back Kenny Williams ran 2 yards, setting up Bustin's game-winner.

Nelson threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to Drew Goodger to put Minnesota ahead 31-24 early in the fourth quarter. From there, the Gophers (6-7) had several chances to make it a two-score lead, but it was Texas Tech that made the late plays.

"I thought we played our guts out," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. "We just couldn't make a play at the critical time."

Texas Tech, playing under interim coach Chris Thomsen, lacked direction for most of the second half. The Red Raiders (8-5) had a chance to take the lead late in the third quarter, but an apparent touchdown was ruled just short of the goal line. That, compounded by Jace Amaro's personal-foul penalty for throwing a punch, pushed the Red Raiders back to a third-and-goal from the 15. Texas Tech wilted from there, and Bustin's 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked.

"I think those guys could have done a better job of keeping their head," Thomsen said, "but I'm not going to let that take away from a great win."

The Red Raiders were penalized 13 times for 135 yards in the game, but Doege and Johnson came up with the late heroics to make Red Raiders fans forget about the lapses.

"The senior leadership on this team has overcome a lot of stuff," Thomsen said. "Seth Doege made some bad plays in the third quarter, but bounced back and got us going. D.J. got beat in the third quarter on that long play, comes back and just makes that play right there. That shows you the heart and the character of this team."

Doege finished 31-for-45 for 271 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Texas Tech's Darrin Moore had a game-high 11 receptions for 84 yards.

Minnesota receiver Derrick Engel made four catches for 108 yards.

Texas Tech edged in front by seven at the end of a raucous first half when Doege ran 4 yards and dived into the end zone for a touchdown.

The Red Raiders scored on all four of their first-half possessions, including a 99-yard touchdown return by Jakeem Grant and backup quarterback Michael Brewer's 13-yard touchdown pass to Derreck Edwards.

The Minnesota defense's highlight in the first two quarters was holding Texas Tech to a field-goal attempt. Bustin made the 28-yard try to tie the game 17-17.

Texas Tech's defense didn't have much more success slowing down the Gophers early on.

Nelson led the Gophers to scores on their first two possessions, which resulted in Jordan Wettstein's 41-yard field goal and Rodrick Williams' 2-yard touchdown run.

Then, Gophers quarterback MarQuies Gray, who began the season as the starter, took over to lead a nine-play, 48-yard touchdown march. Donnell Kirkland scored Minnesota's second touchdown on a 3-yard run to cap the drive, giving the Gophers a 17-14 lead on the second play of the second quarter.

Minnesota's first punt of the game came as the result of a barrage of penalties. Kirkland appeared to run for 17 yards to the Texas Tech 35, but a chop block penalty and a dead-ball personal foul penalty on Minnesota forced the Gophers into a second-and-42 from their own 18. Yet another personal foul on Minnesota offensive lineman Zac Epping on second down pushed Minnesota back even farther to its 11. From there, the Red Raiders defense finally got its first stop, making the Gophers punt on fourth-and-49 from their own 10.

NOTES: Thomsen, who was the Red Raiders' offensive line coach, took over head-coaching duties after Tommy Tuberville departed for Cincinnati on Dec. 8. Texas Tech named Kliff Kingsbury as its new coach on Dec. 12. Though Kingsbury did not coach the team for the bowl game, he watched from a Reliant Stadium suite. ... Texas Tech and Minnesota last met in the 2006 Insight Bowl, which Texas Tech won 44-41 in overtime after posting the largest comeback in FBS bowl history. Minnesota led 38-7 with 7:47 left in the third quarter before Texas Tech scored 31 unanswered points to send the game to OT.
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