Bulldogs Fall Just Short in Poinsettia Bowl
Dec. 21, 2011
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 Cameronand 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 Pattonthat 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 Leefumble 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 Ikharothat 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 Cuthbertrecovered 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 Whitedeep 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.
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.
THE MODERATOR: We have head coach Dykes, wide receiver Myles White, is and, I forget who else. Coach?
Sonny Dykes: Well, you know, really proud of this football team. Um, for us to get here and to have the kind of year that we had with the kind of start that we had, I was really proud of the way they responded this year.
We started 1-4 and guys just kept believing in themselves and kept hang inning in there and recommitted themselves and became a good football team. It was a little disappointing, the way we played tonight, we wished we would have played better and had a better opportunity to win but TCU is a great football team and they made plays down toward the end when we didn't.
But it was a hard-fought football team. I talked with our team about the need to play 60 minutes and we thought it would be a physical game and it was. They made a play down the stretch and we didn't.
I guess the really good football team like this, we've got to play a little bit better. We turned the ball over twice in the first half, had two critical turnovers that both hurt us, missed a field goal that hurt us, and in order to beat them we needed to play better than we did.
Q. Myles, did you feel like you would be up a little bit more, were you disappointed when you went to the locker room and it was tied?
Myles White: A little bit, I felt like we had the best of them in the first half and against good teams you can't be lackadaisical against them and it just proved that we had to take advantage of our situations.
Q. What were they doing on that one drive, 9 minutes, were they just changing up allot on you? What happened on that big, long drive?
Jay Dudley: They just handing up on us, and we weren't playing as hard as we should have.
Q. Myles, if you could, take us through the touchdown catch and what it felt like that make that kind of a play in this kind of a game?
Myles White: Obviously it felt good, making the play for the team and we just saw man-to-man the whole time and they trusted our speed over their speed and I reached out and by the grace of God it kinda fell into my body. I felt it was a great -- I was really happy for myself and for us to be up as a go-ahead touchdown and I thought we were going to bust the game open from that point.
Q. We need you to talk about the fact that you had these guys on the ropes, 16th ranked team in the nation how do you feel going back to
Jay Dudley: We feel okay, but we should have beat 'em, we started something for Louisiana Tech and hopefully Myles and the rest of the junior and sophomores will be able to finish it up next year.
Q. Myles? Can you comment?
Myles White: It's disappointing because we felt like we should have beat them just like Jay said but in a positive sense it's like a jump-start to next year because it shows what our potential is and what we can do.
Q. Jay, on that disputed touchdown where it looked like they may have fumbled at the goal line and may not have, where were you on that play and what did you see?
Jay Dudley: I was taking on a block at that point in time, I didn't see too much, I just seen my teammates pointing the other way and I started pointing the other way, too.
Q. Myles, when you lose your last game is it considered a good season for you because you did something this team hasn't done in a long time in piling up the wins but I know you wanted to finish strong and you didn't do that?
Myles White: In a sense it's a good feeling but ultimately it's a negative feeling and it's going to leave a nasty taste in our mouth and we feel like we can shoot-out with any team in the country so we are going to use this as motivation and keep working hard over the off-season.
Q. Sonny, what did you say to the guys at halftime, seemed like you guys should have been up by a lot more.
Sonny Dykes: When you play a good football team like TCU and you have as many opportunities to distance yourself from them as we did in the first half that's going to come back and bite you if you don't make enough place. We had enough opportunities, got down inside the 10 a couple of times, missed a field goal, really felt like we dominated the first half, felt like our defense played well the fist half, TCU was trying to hurry up at offense a little bit and played into our hands, the defense played close to 50 snaps in the first half so we thought we wore 'em down a little bit and then the game started going down and they started pounding us, we missed a couple of good tackles. They've got three good running backs and those guys are physical, took it's toll, wore us down.
Q. Your offense, did you go to 5 receivers like that all year long?
Sonny Dykes: That was something we did from time to time but we felt like it was a good match-up are for us, TCU didn't see a lot of empties, this year, we liked when they blitzed it, and we liked some of the things we could do when they played zone and rushed with 4.
Q. Colby, talk about that --
Sonny Dykes: He and Patton weren't on the same page, that was a critical play in the game, gave them a cheap touchdown right before the half. Could have gone into halftime with a sizable lead but let them right back into the game.
Q. Sonny, seemed like the guys bounced back well from a couple of things like that second touchdown, TCU answered and you guys answered back, it's not something that a 1-4 team would have done at the beginning of the year but this team --
Sonny Dykes: Yeah, that's been our MO all year long, and I can't tell you how great of a group of seniors this is, and I don't think anybody expected this to be much of a game, if you asked the national media, they wouldn't know what state Louisiana Tech was in, probably.
So, I mean, for our guys to come out here and play with the confidence that we played with and expect to win, I think, is a real credit to them and the work ethic and how far we've come as a program.
Q. Do you know that a national network was talking about a key match-up in the game, featuring a running back wasn't eligible for
Sonny Dykes: Yeah, it does, I think, yeah.
Q. Coach, what did you guys do to hold down their offense in the first half?
Sonny Dykes: Well, you know, the biggest thing was we didn't give up big plays. We made 'em drive the ball the length of the field and coming into the game I felt like that was going to be critical for us. Forced them to execute, we're a good field position football team, we do a good job covering punts and kicks and as a result we had a tendency to pin people back.
Anytime you make 'em drive and execute and string together a long-scoring driving, that's tough for an offense to do, they're going to drop a ball, miss an assignment. To TCU's credit they came out the second half, took about 9 minutes put together a drive and ate up a good part of the fourth quarter and that's what hard-nosed football teams do, and that's what TCU is. They're a big, physical team, they had a physical advantage over us at times.
But as I said, I'm proud of our guys for scrapping and playing hard.
Q. Sonny, do you think during that 9-minute drive do you think they wore you down and it was tough --
Sonny Dykes: I think, wore us down and they got the pass interference call that set things up, our defense did a great job of stopping them and they got a new set of downs. I liked that our kids kept playing, we were close to forcing a, turnover, thereafter we gave them a fresh set of downs and a lot of our kids felt like it was a turn over and the official said the replay official had a good view of it, so I'm sure they made the great call. I thought the officiating was good, they were Big 10 officials and it's as good of a crew as I've ever been around.
Q. Does the loss detract from the 9-1 season?
Sonny Dykes: Well, you want to win your last game, you really do, especially when you have a chance against a great program. This was an opportunity for us to put ourselves on the map a little bit.
I think we did in some ways, I think we garnered a lot of people's respect, but we're not a big outfit, we expect to win games and expected to win this one and we want to make sure that whatever bowl game we play in next year we want to make sure we win it.
Q. Tank Carder's name wasn't called a lot, what did you do?
Sonny Dykes: Spread him out, he's dominant as a box linebacker, but to get him out and make him play in a lot of space, I think he's more comfortable playing against a team that's playing with a tight end or full back, a little more 12, 21 personnel, he likes better. We felt like there were some things we could take advantage of in that regard.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: Coach.
GARY PATTERSON: First off, Louisiana Tech, I think Dykes and his crew has done an unbelievable job. I was impressed from "Make A Wish" on, the class that their kids showed, how physical they were and they fought for 60 minutes, I think you have to give them a lot of credit and the they haven't been in one of these games before and we have.
To come in and play like that I think you have to give them credit for what they did. I think you have to give our team credit in the fact that it's a situation where everybody said a lot of things, been out for a while, played, banged up, found a way to win.
They've been doing it all year, going back to the Baylor game where we bought got ourselves back into the ballgame, got down, 24-17, got a couple of stops, found a way to score points and in the end wound up finding a way to win and that's what you have to do to win championships.
Q. Talk about the interception.
GREG McCOY: It was one of those plays where I had to go out and make a play to make sure I was accountable for my team.
GARY PATTERSON: Was it a slant and go?
GREG McCOY: It was a slant.
GARY PATTERSON: You stepped in front of it?
GREG McCOY: He slammed inside and I knew he was going inside so I jumped it.
Q. Talk about the difference in the second half, especially on that 9-minute drive, what was clicking there?
CASEY PACHALL: Poor execution on my part, poor throws on my part to receivers slipping and penalties killed us. In the second half we knew what we had to do to come out and face all that stuff, and I felt like we did that real well.
Q. Did you guys feel like you were behind after the first half?
CASEY PACHALL: We felt like we should have scored several times but that wasn't the case and we didn't want to give up at any point, we weren't going to give up and we knew we had to execute and we were going to come out victorious.
Q. Talk about your big reception.
SKYE DAWSON: It was a good catch, I had to redeem myself, I had to make a good play for the Lord.
GARY PATTERSON: I didn't see you for a while, you were behind that TB, he was taller!
Q. Greg, the anticipation at the beginning of the season was that you would be in a higher tiered bowl, but when you win a bowl game is it an overwhelming feeling?
SKYE DAWSON: It's a great feeling, it's a great bowl, we did have an expectation to get into the BCS, didn't happen, had to come out here and play hard -- since we didn't make it into the BCS, we had to play hard, we came out here and play hard and win.
GARY PATTERSON: They asked me last year at the Rose Bowl were we disappointed because we weren't playing in the national championship game and I told them I wouldn't do anything to harp the Rose Bowl because they did an unbelievable job. I would say the same thing about the Poinsettia, great ballgame, worked out that way -- he straightened me out, hopefully he'll do that for the next couple of years.
Q. Casey, we seen you go for a 2-point conversion, what does it mean for him to give you the confidence to go for that 4th down like that as he did a couple of times?
CASEY PACHALL: As an offense we don't like coming off the field, we love going in fourth down because we feel like it's crunch time and that shows what we're made of. Anytime he will let us go for it on a 4th down or 2-point conversion we're going to go for it.
GARY PATTERSON: Haven't you guys seen that study on 4th downs? I went over it with the math department and they were telling me how it was stupid to punt. (Laughter.)
Q. Casey, if you can address the challenge that they presented tonight, probably one of your toughest games of the season that we didn't know a lot about.
CASEY PACHALL: They were tough coming out, we knew it wasn't going to be easy, they were hitting us in the mouth in the first half and showed us what they had and we had to counter it and several times in the first half we would get them, then they would get us, but they were a physical group and they never quit.
Props to them for that.
Q. Casey, your first year as a starter you end up breaking Andy Dalton's single season passing yards, have you set the bar higher going into next season?
CASEY PACHALL: The bar is going to be set high for myself and for my team. I always have high expectations because I love to succeed is and whenever things click, it all works. But without my receivers without my "O" line, my running backs, without them I wouldn't be able to do what I did because it was a great group to play with this year and I'm glad I had them by my side to help me out to protect and catch, got some great receivers and great running backs and a great "O" line so I'm glad I had them.
Q. ESPN made a comment that you guys seemed flat, a little down in the first half. Did you guys feel that or was it something that they were doing to take you out of your game?
CASEY PACHALL: There was nothing they did that surprised us or caught us off guard. It was us making mistakes that held us from or getting first downs, such as penalties, bad throws on my part, receivers slipping, but that was something we had to fix. Get everybody together, fix it at halftime and we knew we couldn't make those mistakes if we wanted to win.
Q. Casey, you had some big plays nullified by penalties, what do you tell the guys after they get back to the huddle after a play like that?
CASEY PACHALL: Anytime that happens we make it clear we can't have anymore of those to stop drives because you can't take off any play and we need to score. We feel as an offense we have to score every play, regardless of what the defense is doing, we need to score every drive, because as a whole team it will help the motivation and the momentum.
GARY PATTERSON: Merry Christmas!
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, guys.