HOUSTON (Ticker) -- The Astrodome welcomed back postseason college football and East Carolina supplied the celebratory fireworks.
The Pirates scored five touchdowns in the opening 25 1/2 minutes, including a pair of one-yard runs by Leonard Henry, and cruised to a 40-27 victory over Texas Tech in the inaugural Galleryfurniture.com Bowl.
David Garrard threw for a touchdown and ran for another and Keith Stokes returned a punt 71 yards for a score during the offensive explosion that propelled the Pirates (8-4) to their first bowl victory in five years.
"They (the players) had a great focus the moment we got the bowl bid," East Carolina coach Steve Logan said. "They got together and said they were going to win this game. It's a credit to the kids."
Stokes compiled 266 all-purpose yards for East Carolina, which overcame an uncharacteristic five turnovers. The Pirates lost only four fumbles during the regular season, ranking fourth in the nation in that category.
"Just the turnovers kept the game close," Logan said.
The Red Raiders held East Carolina to a pair of field goals by Kevin Miller in the second half and attempted a comeback as Kliff Kingsbury threw touchdown passes of 65, 17 and three yards to three different receivers.
Texas Tech, however, was unable to overcome the early blitz, when it was also caught offguard.
Garrard, who had 262 total yards, scored on a six-yard run 3 1/2 minutes into the game, but the Pirates were forced to settle for a 6-0 lead when the conversion was blocked.
Moments later, the Pirates recovered an onside kick, keeping the momentum. By the end of the first quarter, they had a 20-0 lead and Garrard hit Derrick Collier for a 44-yard score in the first minute of the second period.
"The onside kick was scripted early. We saw something on film we were able to take advantage of," Logan said.
Garrard, the Pirates' all-time leader in total yards,said after the game that he would return for his senior season. The 6-3 native of Durham, North Carolina has 49 career touchdowns, nine shy of Marcus Crandell's school record.
"The guys just came out of the gates mentally focused," said Garrard, who completed 17-of-27 passes for 229 yards. "Keith Stokes, all my receivers, the offensive line, everyone just came out prepared."
Texas Tech, which completed a 7-6 season under first-year coach Mike Leach, fell to 5-18-1 all-time in bowl games.
The Red Raiders also played in the 1976 Bluebonnet Bowl in the Astrodome against Nebraska, but it had been 13 years since the building, nicknamed the "Eighth Wonder of the World" when it opened in 1965, had hosted a bowl game.
East Carolina improved to 41-4 under Logan when scoring at least 40 points.
Henry totaled 92 yards on 20 carries for the Pirates, who won three of their final four games.
Kingsbury was 31-of-49 for 307 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions, while Darrell Jones hauled in six passes for 147 yards.
It was the first meeting between the schools.