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TCU rallies to down Louisiana Tech in Poinsettia Bowl

Dec 22, 2011 - 6:45 AM San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - TCU improved to 4-0 in red-flowered bowl games over the past six years, but not without Louisiana Tech giving the 16th- ranked Bulldogs a run for their money in Wednesday's Poinsettia Bowl.

The heavily-favored Horned Frogs, last year's Rose Bowl champion and winner of the 2006 and '08 Poinsettia Bowls, trailed in the fourth quarter before pulling out a 31-24 win to end their final season before moving to the Big 12.

Casey Pachall threw the game-winning 42-yard touchdown pass to Skye Dawson with 4:26 remaining, easily the sophomore's biggest throw in an otherwise modest 206-yard performance.

Ed Wesley added 77 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries for TCU (11-2), which was denied a second straight trip to a BCS game but nonetheless ended on a high note.

"We had expectations of getting to the BCS, but it didn't happen," Dawson said. "We still played our hearts out and came away with a win."

Colby Cameron led the Western Athletic Conference-champion Bulldogs (8-5) with 264 yards and two touchdowns through the air.

Louisiana Tech failed to stop TCU on a pair of fourth-down tries early in the fourth quarter. The conversions extended a drive that lasted 18 plays and 9 1/2-minutes, with Luke Shivers plowing in from a yard out to tie the game, 24-24, with 7:49 remaining.

The Bulldogs went three-and-out and Brandon Carter's 15-yard run moved the Horned Frogs into enemy territory. On 3rd-and-5 from the 42, Pachall rolled left to avoid the blitz and Dawson beat his defender on a corner route for the go-ahead score.

Louisiana Tech took over with 4:26 remaining, but incompletions on second and third down forced another quick punt. With time winding down, Pachall bootlegged for a tough five yards on 3rd-and-4 to help TCU kill the remaining time and pull out the hard-fought win.

"This was an opportunity for us to get on the map a little bit," said Bulldogs head coach Sonny Dykes, who signed a contract extension through the 2017 season before the game. "We did in some ways, but we're not a big moral victory outfit. We expected to win this one."

The Horned Frogs scored all their points in the first half off turnovers.

They converted a fumble deep in their own territory into a 25-yard Ross Evans field goal early in the second quarter, then turned Greg McCoy's interception of Cameron into a seven-yard touchdown run by Wesley just before halftime.

Things were knotted, 10-10, at the break thanks to Matt Nelson's 23-yard field goal in the first quarter and Quinton Patton's acrobatic catch. The two-yard touchdown was originally ruled incomplete, but replay reversed the call after it was revealed Patton dragged his foot inbounds with full possession.

TCU opened the second half with an 11-play, 55-yard drive that Matthew Tucker capped with a one-yard plunge, but two Horned Frogs turnovers resulted in LaTech re-taking the lead.

Carter's muffed punt led to Hunter Lee's two-yard TD run midway through the third, and Myles White hauled in a 61-yard score after Quinn Giles picked off Pachall.

Game Notes

TCU ended the season with eight straight wins, starting with a win over San Diego State at Qualcomm Stadium and ending it there on Wednesday...Gary Patterson tied Dutch Meyer as TCU's all-time winningest coach with 109 victories...Pachall broke Andy Dalton's single-season school records for completions (228) and yards (2,921)...The Frogs improved to 13-13-1 in bowl games, while the Bulldogs fell to 2-3-1...Louisiana Tech entered with a seven- game winning streak...White led all players with seven receptions for 110 yards...The game is one of just four bowls to match conference champions against each other.