Bulldogs Fall Just Short in Poinsettia Bowl
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SAN DIEGO - Eighteenth-ranked TCU scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to complete a 31-24 come-from-behind victory over Louisiana Tech in the 2011 San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Wednesday night at Qualcom Stadium.
With Tech (8-5) leading 24-17 midway through the fourth quarter, TCU running back Luke Shivers completed an impressive 18-play, 72-yard drive with a one-yard plunge with 7:49 to play to tie the game at 24-24.
After a three-and-out by the Bulldog offense on its ensuing possession, TCU (11-2) took the lead on a 42-yard strike from Casey Pachall to Skye Dawson with 4:26 to play. The touchdown came on a third-down-and-five play where TCU caught the Bulldogs blitzing and the speedster Dawson beat the LA Tech secondary for the score.
Quarterback Colby Cameron and the Bulldog offense had one final opportunity but another three-and-out - the third of the second half - forced a Tech punt and TCU ran out the clock by grinding out two first downs via the ground.
The Bulldogs had the momentum in the opening two quarters as Matt Nelson's 23-yard field goal with 8:30 to play in the first quarter gave Tech a 3-0 lead. The score capped a 13-play, 65-yard drive by Tech which was highlighted by a 28-yard pass from Cameron to Quinton Patton that took the Bulldogs down to the TCU 12-yard line.
However, Tech was unable to get into the endzone on six plays inside the TCU red zone, forcing the field goal attempt.
Following a Hunter Lee fumble inside the TCU 35-yard line late in the first quarter, the Horned Frogs drove deep inside Tech territory and tied the game on a Ross Evans 25-yard field goal with 14:11 to play in the second quarter.
Tech countered immediately with a seven-play, 59-yard drive that was capped by Cameron's two-yard strike to Patton - a play that was initially ruled as an incompletion but that was overturned after instant replay. Nelson's extra point made it 10-3. The drive was highlighted by a 26-yard toss from Cameron to Taulib Ikharo that took the ball down to the TCU four-yard line.
The Bulldogs appeared to have all the momentum heading into half until TCU corner Greg McCoy intercepted a Cameron pass with just over two minutes to play and returned it to the LA Tech 25-yard line. Four plays later, Ed Wesley tied the game on a seven-yard run with only 55 seconds to play in the half.
The two teams entered the locker room tied despite the fact Tech ran 21 more offensive plays than the Horned Frogs and outgained TCU 266-144.
TCU took its first lead of the contest on their opening drive of the second half as Matthew Tucker scored from one-yard out, ending an 11-play, 55-yard drive.
Trailing 17-10, Tech was forced to punt on its next possession but the Bulldogs special teams came up big as Josh Cuthbert recovered a muffed punt by Brandon Carter inside the TCU red zone. Three plays later, Lee hit paydirt from two yards out and the game was tied again at 17-17.
After neither team was able to move the ball on their next possessions, the Bulldog defense came up with a turnover as Quinn Giles intercepted Paschall on the Tech 39-yard line. On a third-down-and 10 play, Cameron found Myles White deep over the middle for a 61-yard touchdown. Nelson's extra point was good as Tech regained the advantage 24-17.
TCU then put together the drive of the night, marching 72 yards on 18 plays and tying the game at 24 on a one-yard run by Shivers. The Horned Frogs recorded six first downs on the drive, converting two fourth down conversions and picking up a huge first down on a defensive pass interference call in the end zone on a third-down-and-goal at the nine.
The Horned Frogs dominated the time of possession in the second half, holding onto the football for 24 minutes and 10 seconds while running 52 offensive plays to LA Tech's 21.
Cameron finished the game completing 21-of-43 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while White (7-110, 1 TD) and Patton (5-67, 1 TD) were his top two targets. Lee rushed 20 times for 64 yards and one score.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by Jay Dudley (10 tackles, 1 TFL), Justin Goodman (9 tackles, 1.5 TFL) and Jamel Johnson (9 tackles).
Tech ends the season 8-5, the most wins by a Tech team since 1999. The Bulldogs also won their second Western Athletic Conference championship and participated in their second bowl game in the last four years.