SAN DIEGO — Casey Pachall and Texas Christian are headed to the Big 12 Conference with an eight-game winning streak.
Pachall highlighted a record-setting game with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Skye Dawson with 4:26 remaining, lifting the No. 16 Horned Frogs to a 31-24 victory against Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday.
TCU (11-2), the Mountain West Conference champion, is moving to the Big 12 next year. It was the Horned Frogs’ third win of the season in which they overcame a fourth-quarter deficit, including a 36-35 victory at Boise State on Nov. 12, the Broncos’ only loss.
“It feels great because it’s going to give us a lot of momentum,” the sophomore Pachall said. “As a young team, no one expected us to get this far.”
Pachall completed 15 of 29 passes for 206 yards. He set school season records with 228 completions, 2,921 yards and a completion percentage of 66.5, breaking marks held by Andy Dalton, now a rookie starter with the Cincinnati Bengals.
On the decisive play, Pachall took the snap in the shotgun and Dawson ran past safety Chad Boyd to pull in the long pass. Pachall said he changed the play when he saw a blitz coming.
“It was a great catch by Skye and a touchdown,” Pachall said.
Dawson said: “Once I saw single coverage, I pretty much knew I could get by the guy. You have to secure the ball and get in the end zone.”
TCU is 3-0 in the Poinsettia Bowl.
The Horned Frogs, who beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl last season, had hoped to make it to a BCS bowl for the third straight season.
“It didn’t turn out the way we expected or how we wanted it to, but we came out with a win,” Dawson said.”
Western Athletic Conference champion Louisiana Tech (8-5) had its seven-game winning streak snapped hours after coach Sonny Dykes agreed to a contract extension through 2017.
TCU tied the game at 24 on Luke Shivers’ 1-yard run with 7:49 left that capped an 18-play, 72-yard drive that consumed 9 minutes, 21 seconds. A replay review took away a yard on a completion from Pachall to Matthew Tucker to bring up fourth-and-1 from the Bulldogs 9. Tucker gained 6 yards for the first down. On third-and-goal from the 8, a pass interference call against Louisiana Tech in the end zone gave TCU a first down on the 2. Shivers tied it two plays later.
The Bulldogs had to punt on their next drive, and TCU scored the go-ahead touchdown six plays later.
Louisiana Tech seemed to have the momentum after turning two TCU turnovers into scores in the third quarter to take a 24-17 lead.
TCU’s Brandon Carter fumbled a punt that was recovered on the 12, setting up Hunter Lee’s 2-yard run that tied the game at 17.
Quinn Giles intercepted a pass from Pachall on the Louisiana Tech 39-yard line. Three plays later, Myles White made a one-handed, over-the-shoulder catch on a 61-yard pass from Colby Cameron for a touchdown to make it 24-17.
White reached up for the ball with his right hand and pulled it in.
“I tracked the ball late,” he said. “I reached out and by the grace of God it kind of fell into my body. I thought we were going to bust the game open from that point.”
Dykes said: “I was a little disappointed in the way we played tonight. I wish we would have played better. I think we would have had a good opportunity to win. But they made plays down the stretch when they needed to, and we didn’t.”TEXAS CHRISTIAN — 31
LA. TECH — 24
KEY: Casey Pachall threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Skye Dawson with 4:26 left to snap a 24-all tie.