Texas Tech Earns First Independence Bowl Victory Over Cal, 34-14
SHREVEPORT, La. (Dec. 16, 2023) – The third time was the charm, as the Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the California Golden Bears 34-14 in the 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl – earning their first Independence Bowl victory in their third appearance in the game’s history.
The Red Raiders’ defense forced four turnovers, including three interceptions of Cal quarterback Fernando Mendoza, and used three first-half touchdown passes from the Offensive Player of the Game, quarterback Behren Morton, to propel themselves to victory. Morton finished the night with 256 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception.
Cal jumped out to the quickest start possible, forcing a Texas Tech fumble on the game’s first play. On their first offensive snap, Mendoza hit wide receiver Monroe Young for a 25-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead 15 seconds into the game. It is the fastest a team has scored a touchdown in Independence Bowl hsitory. The two teams then traded scores, as the Bears entered quarter two with a 14-7 lead.
From there, Texas Tech scored 27 unanswered the rest of the way. Morton threw a pair touchdowns to Mason Tharp and Loic Fouonji in the game’s second frame. Red Raiders kicker Gino Garcia connected on a 25-yard field goal at the end of the first half to take a 24-14 lead into the half. Texas Tech outscored Cal 17-0 in the second quarter.
On the initial drive of the second half, Tyrique Matthews intercepted Mendoza but could not capitalize. The Bear’s next time out ended with a punt that netted 10 yards and ended with Texas Tech having the ball on the Cal 15-yard line. Texas Tech running back Tahj Brooks did the rest of the work from there, rushing two times for 15 yards – including a seven-yard touchdown run. Brooks finished the game with 99 yards on 21 carries – surpassing 3,000 rushing yards for his career and 1,500 yards for the season.
The fourth quarter was all about turnovers for the Red Raiders, as they intercepted two passes and forced one fumble. Defensive Player of the Game, linebacker Jacob Rodriguez had one of the interceptions and forced the fumble in the fourth quarter. The Red Raiders added a field goal to finish off the night with a 20-point win.
The victory is the first in three trips to the Independence Bowl for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders had played in the 1986 and 1998 Independence Bowls – falling to Ole Miss both times. The win is also makes it three straight season that they have finished with a bowl victory. Head Coach Joey McGuire has now won bowl games in both of his first two seasons at the helm of Texas Tech.
ABOUT THE RADIANCE TECHNOLOGIES INDEPENDENCE BOWL™
Established in 1976, the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl™ is college football’s 11th most-historic bowl game and celebrated its 47th edition on Saturday, December 16, 2023. The Texas Tech Red Raiders defeated the California Golden Bears 34-14 in the 2023 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl. The Independence Bowl Foundation announced a one-year extension with Radiance Technologies – ensuring they will be the title sponsor through 2025. The bowl’s conference, team, and television agreements also run through the 2025 season. Army West Point and the Big 12 are slated to match up against a rotation of the Pac-12 Conference, American Athletic Conference and Conference USA, which will be televised on an ESPN network.
The Independence Bowl Foundation is prevalent in the Shreveport-Bossier City area throughout the year, hosting events to help enhance the economic impact and growth of our community. The Mission of the Independence Bowl is to attract and provide quality, nationally recognized football competition oriented to the Ark-La-Tex region. For more information, visit RadianceTechnologiesIndependenceBowl.com or follow the bowl on Facebook, X and Instagram at @IndyBowl.
Independence Bowl Foundation
P.O Box 1723, Shreveport LA 71166 | 401 Market Street, Shreveport, LA 71101 | 318.221.0712