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Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas notebook: Amaro returns only to be ejected

Several Red Raiders finish with career milestones

Posted: December 29, 2012 - 1:30am  |  Updated: December 29, 2012 - 1:54am
Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant breaks free to score a touchdown on a kickoff return against Minnesota during the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Friday in Houston.   Zach Long/Avalanche-Journal
Zach Long/Avalanche-Journal
Texas Tech's Jakeem Grant breaks free to score a touchdown on a kickoff return against Minnesota during the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on Friday in Houston.
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Unceremonious return

HOUSTON — Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro made his first appearance in a game for the Red Raiders since suffering a spleen injury against West Virginia on Oct. 13.

But he wasn’t around to see the game end.

Amaro was ejected late in the third quarter of the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas after throwing a punch at Minnesota safety Derrick Wells in the end zone. The play came as Jakeem Grant appeared to score a touchdown from 1 yard out. But after review, officials determined Grant had fumbled the ball out of bounds short of the goal line.

That pushed the Red Raiders back to the 16-yard line, and they were later forced to settle for a field goal that was blocked, leaving the game tied at 24.

Before he was ejected, Amaro caught two passes for 15 yards.

Even though he played only seven games, Amaro put up numbers — 25 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns — that rivaled those of any tight end in the Big 12.

 

Jakeem goes all the way ... again

Kliff Kingsbury may have already found his kickoff return man for the 2013 season.

Texas Tech’s Jakeem Grant returned his first kick of the game 99 yards for a touchdown, the first such play in Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas history.

It marked the second time in as many chances Grant returned a kick for a touchdown. He took back the last kick he caught 98 yards for a touchdown against Baylor in the regular-season finale on Nov. 24 inside Cowboys Stadium. Kingsbury, who will begin coaching the team during spring practice, was there to see Grant’s most recent big play as he watched the game from a suite at Reliant Stadium.

Grant didn’t return his first kick off this season until Tech’s game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 17.

He’s certainly made the most of his opportunities since.

 

Mounting milestones

A trio of Texas Tech players ended the season in style Friday night, reaching significant milestones during the Red Raiders 34-31 victory.

Receivers Eric Ward and Darrin Moore both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Ward (1,053) finished with seven catches for 79 yards. Moore (1,032) hauled in 11 passes for 84 yards.

It marked the first time since 2007 that Tech had two receivers surpass 1,000 yards in the same season since 2007 (Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola). It was also the first time since 2008 that any Red Raider receiver eclipsed the plateau.

The guy throwing the ball to Ward and Moore achieved an impressive milestone himself. Seth Doege threw for 271 yards, making him just the second quarterback in Tech history (Graham Harrell) to throw for at least 4,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

Doege’s most impressive play of the night, though, wasn’t a throw at all. With only 12 seconds left in the first half, with Tech and Minnesota tied at 17, the senior quarterback used a spin move to shake a tackler, then dove into the end zone to give the Red Raiders a 24-17 lead.

 

No helmet, no problem

Texas Tech backup quarterback Michael Brewer was pressed into a moment of unexpected action during the first quarter Friday night, and he took full advantage of it.

After starter Seth Doege completed a 5-yard run down to the Minnesota 13-yard line, his helmet was knocked off during the tackle. Doege popped up smiling and jawing at the Gophers, but a new rule put into place this season required Doege to sit out the following play.

The Red Raiders didn’t miss a beat.

Brewer came in for one play and completed a slant to Derreck Edwards, who easily sprinted into the end zone for his first career touchdown catch. The score gave Tech a 14-10 lead.

In spot action behind Doege, Brewer ended the season completing 34 of 48 passes for 375 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He is the odds-on favorite to start at the position in 2013.

 

Oh boy, Troy

Jakeem Grant isn’t the only player who made noise in the return game on Friday.

On the opening kickoff, Minnesota’s Troy Stoudermire’s 26-yard runback gave him the NCAA record for kickoff return yardage previously held by Houston’s Tyron Carrier.

Stoudermire, a cornerback, finished his career with 3,615 return yards.

 

Cornerback picture

Texas Tech cornerback Derrick Mays made only his second start of the season, filling in for Cornelius Douglas, who was suspended for the bowl game.

Mays’ other start was in the regular-season finale against Baylor.

Mays left the game late in the third quarter after taking a knee to the head as he tackled Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray.

 

Bouncing back

When Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson threw two second-half touchdown passes, it snapped a slump. In the final three games of the regular season, the Golden Gophers freshman threw five interceptions with no touchdown passes.

The Minnesota rushing game also snapped out of the doldrums with strong running from sophomore Donnell Kirkwood and freshman Rodrick Williams Jr.

In the last two games of the regular season, Minnesota had 87 rushing yards in a 38-14 loss at Nebraska and 4 rushing yards in a 26-10 loss to Michigan State. Their leading rushers in those games were Williams with 26 yards against Nebraska and Kirkwood with 19 yards against Michigan State.

 

In brief

Tech DE Pete Robertson left the game in the first half with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

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Spleen injuries: Has anyone else noticed that both ...

... Doege and Romo both hang their receivers out to dry, and neither seem to be able to lead one in full stride. Oh, and both like to throw to the other guys when under pressure. Game MVP, I'll take Johnson.

Jakeem needs to have the ball more often, especially with Ward/Moore departing.

Brewer will lead this team to more wins than Doege ever could, provided Kliff recruits some linemen on both sides of the ball (a juco running back?! REALLY?! C'mon Kliff, let's be serious!).

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This guy is fast becoming an issue

with more to come I'm sure.

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