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Johnson's interception lifts Red Raiders to win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Ryan Bustin's 28-yard field goal as time expired capped the comeback victory against Minnesota

Posted: December 29, 2012 - 12:45am  |  Updated: December 29, 2012 - 1:49am
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Texas Tech's Seth Doege hoist a trophy next to interim head coach Chris Thomsen after the Red Raiders win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Friday in Houston.  Zach Long
Zach Long
Texas Tech's Seth Doege hoist a trophy next to interim head coach Chris Thomsen after the Red Raiders win over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Friday in Houston.
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HOUSTON — Sixty-nine days.

That’s how long it had been since Texas Tech had forced a turnover. Before it came up with another one, a presidential campaign had been waged, a coaching change had taken place in Lubbock and a number of major holidays had fallen off the calendar.

But the wait turned out to be well worth it for the Red Raiders.

D.J. Johnson intercepted a Philip Nelson pass with less than a minute left in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas and returned it 39 yards to the Minnesota 22-yard line.

A few moments later, Ryan Bustin nailed a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give Texas Tech a 34-31 victory inside Reliant Stadium.

The winning boot sent the Red Raiders pouring onto the field to celebrate a victory that seemed so unlikely only minutes earlier.

With the score tied at 31 in the closing minute, Nelson, a freshman who guided the Golden Gophers to one of their best offensive performances of the season, went deep for his top target, Derrick Engel.

But the ball glanced off Engel’s hands and into Johnson’s. The senior safety capped a career night — 14 tackles — by sprinting on a tight rope down the sideline to put the Red Raiders into position to win the game.

“D.J. got beat in the third quarter on that long play, comes back and just makes the play right there,” Tech interim coach Chris Thomsen said. “That shows you the heart and character of this team. That’s what I’ve been saying all along. Great, great guys.”

Before the turnover, the type of play this defense hadn’t known in so long, the Red Raiders appeared on their way to another self-destructing collapse. Penalties (13 for 135 yards) and turnovers (Doege threw two fourth-quarter interceptions) were crippling. Doege’s second wayward toss was intercepted by Michael Carter at the Tech 46 with 5:06 left and Minnesota already leading 31-24.

But a Tech defense that was scorched for much of the game came up with a huge stand, and Doege took over determined to write a better ending to his final college game. He moved the Red Raiders 82 yards down the field in a little more than two minutes, culminating in a 35-yard game-tying touchdown pass to Eric Ward.

“This is awesome,” Doege, who was named the game’s most valuable player, said on the award podium after the game. “These guys have battled through adversity our whole careers. It doesn’t surprise me that these guys battled tonight.”

What was surprising was the how the Red Raiders ended the game given the monumental struggles they had producing takeaways in the season’s second half. Johnson often said he believed Tech had the best defense in the country that couldn’t come up with a turnover.

His lightning-quick return down the sideline gave Bustin a chance, and the sophomore hit the biggest kick of his life. His 17th successful attempt tied a school record, and it was the first time the Red Raiders won a game on a field goal in the final minute of regulation since 1997.

“It was an up and down game the whole night,” Bustin said, “and I was just glad I could put it through the uprights for these seniors.”

Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said he did not regret trying to drive down the field with only a minute left in a tie game.

“You play the game to win,” he said, “and we had plenty of time to win.”

Before the late-game flurry, Tech’s offense had been stymied by Minnesota. Doege used a spin move and a dive to score a rushing touchdown on the final play of the first half that put Tech up, 24-17, but the Red Raiders didn’t score again more than 27 minutes. That span included a blocked Tech field goal, an ejection of tight end Jace Amaro and the two interceptions by Doege.

“The whole game we battled adversity,” Doege said. “We shot ourselves in the foot the entire football game. That drive where we went and tied the game; we finally started clicking. It finally happened at the right time.”

Just like that long-overdue turnover.

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It's a "W", no thanks to Tubbs.

This team had no leadership at all during this game. The defense was horrible and the offense looked almost as bad as they did against OSU. However, we still came away with a win! Now Kliff needs to snag as many defensive play makers as he can before Feb.


dirty and ugly

Teams take on the personality of their coach. Jerry Kill has created a dirty, cheap-shot team at Minnesota, and he himself is a boorish, loudmouth whiner. I don't see how any UM fans could be happy about this situation. The officials were clearly not mentally prepared to take control of the game. If they had, some of those fouls could've been prevented.


Tech Played Dirty Too

When Jakeem Grant fumbled what was nearly a go-ahead touchdown out of bounds, Amaro made it worse by punching a defender he had pinned on the ground. Even worse? He did so right in front of an official, who flagged him for a 15-yard penalty and forced Tech into a third-and-goal from the 16. The eventual result was a blocked field goal; Minnesota took a 31-24 lead with a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Amaro didn't help his case by clearly complaining on the sideline and leaving the field while signaling "Guns Up" to the fans.

Some of the Tech players played just as dirty as Minnesota, if not more so. KK should remedy that kind of behavior.


Glad this year is over

Ugly win as the better team last night lost. Obviously, Tech was not very well coached last night and it showed in all phases. Now the season is over, it's time to rebuild with a real football coach in Kingsbury. Not worried about the offense but we need more players on Def... especially the d-line......and find a kicker that can get the f....in ball in the air and can consistently put it thru the uprights. Busted was lucky his final kick wasn't blocked too..... he's horrible.....while finding a new kicker, look for a punter too, someone who can net 40+ yards a kick and doesn't take forever in getting the ball off. Lots of work to be done but I believe they now have the man to do it


It wasn't pretty but it was a

It wasn't pretty but it was a win ! Going into new year defense must be the top priority.


Dead Weight!!

This team proved the head coach and assistants that dumped on them and left them cold weren't even needed. The players seamed to be playing with a lot of emotion ( mostly anger) which proved to be costly penalty wise. I think the emotions payed dividends in the end. It seamed this team was not going to be denied a victory, no matter what. Great win for a great team!!! Its good to see the old spark back!!!!


Sloppiest, ugliest game I've ever seen

But a win was nice. TTU had luck on their side, neither team looked disciplined at all. There were several instances where it looked like neither team had ever played the game before.


Jace Amaro

One of the first things Kliff needs to do is release this thug from his scholarship! Jace was arrested for underaged drinking and decides to punch an opposing player in front of the referee. Typical NCAA football player who thinks he is above the law and the rules do not apply to him.


Jace Amaro does need to go.

I totally agree with Former student. There is no need for this example of classless character on this team.



There are going to be a few character issues probably. Remember the guy who coached them to this horribly mediocre season was a classless character. You know, the guy that the hancers held up as a pillar of the community type who wore a suit and didnt allow hats in the building. Hell of a guy it turns out, who must have enforced some hellacious discipline.


You Guys Are Right

It was beyond ugly. The team seemed to finally take on the personality of a coach who habitually cheated investors and had the ability to look right into a camera and lie.

I wouldn't hire the Minnesota coach to clean the mens room.

As for Amaro, who is a special talent, I think he owes a written apology to the school that includes an assurance that his conduct will fly high. Otherwise, I must grudgingly agree that the program might want to consider letting him go--and there would be a thousand takers.

I'm happy for the seniors and their bowl win and happy for the program, for it is now on the right track.

Go Tech!


Judge not, lest ye be ...

... holier than thou ??? I was as disappointed in Amaro as (almost, but not quite, it seems) anyone, as he cost his team a win. Well, he would have if Minnesota had a QB on its roster. Yes, he needs to be put on probation and let known it's his last chance, as I too find such behavior deplorable. But can we please stop with the hate and need for bloodletting. If everyone who was a jerk or lost their temper was thrown to the lions, there'd be no football and y'all wouldn't be posting here.


Have to agree

If you watch the replay, it appeared that the DB pulled at the Amaro's face mask as they went to the ground and Amaro definitely over-reacted. Yeah it was a stupid move, throwing the punch. The entire game the players were mouthy and there had been many skirmishes during and after the plays. Still a stupid move on 22's part. But he should be given another chance to make it right. Im with Pete, it should be his "second strike". But yanking his scholarship at this point would be a mistake. Plus these guys dont need any drama like that going into the spring. I think Kingsbury will handle it the right way. We'll see.



I listened to the bowl game on radio. Texas Tech players disturbed me. To Jace Amaro-Boy I hear from the announcers that you are talented enough to play at the next level. If you remain as undisciplined as you were in the Meinike Car Care Bowl then not only will you send large checks to IRS you will give a considerable sum to the league for your lack of self-discipline. If you do not play sports professionally your lack of discipline(thuggish behavior) will have visiting my establishment for a bit--I am a County Jailer-Get self-discipline or I will..SEE YOU SOON!!!

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