TCU quarterback Casey Pachall completed a 42-yard touchdown pass to receiver Skye Dawson with 4:26 left in the game to propel the Frogs (11-2) to a 31-24 win over Louisiana Tech (8-5) Wednesday night in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at Snapdragon Stadium.
Dawson's touchdown grab came with the game tied at 24-24 and TCU (11-2) facing a third down and six. Pachall, who set the single season school record for passing yards earlier in the game, found Dawson open for the go-ahead score.
Dawson said once he recognized the defense Louisiana Tech was running, he was able to find a whole in the Bulldogs' secondary and get open for the touchdown.
"Once I saw single coverage, I pretty much knew I could get by the guy," Dawson said.
The touchdown capped a comeback fourth quarter for the Frogs, who trailed 24-17 going into the final period.
But TCU owned the final 15 minutes.
The Frogs went on a 70-yard drive, their longest of the season, and capped it off with a one-yard touchdown run by senior fullback Luke Shivers.
The TCU defense then forced the Bulldogs to go three and out on their next possession. Six plays after getting the ball back, Pachall hooked up with Dawson for the go-ahead score. Louisiana Tech couldn't respond, going three and out again and giving TCU the ball back for the final time.
Dawson said the Frogs' big second half their response to getting out-played in the first half. TCU had to react, Dawson said.
"They were hitting us in the mouth in the first half and we had to counter," Dawson said.
Pachall finished the game 15-of-29 passing for 206 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore said Wednesday night's win was the finishing touch to a season in which the TCU team, short on experience, exceeded expectations.
"It feels great because it's going to give us a lot of momentum," Pachall said. "As a young team, no one expected us to get this far."
Dawson, who took home the game's offensive MVP award, snagged five catches for 66 yards to go along with his game-winning touchdown grab.
Dawson said the game may have been closer than the Frogs had expected going into it, but a win is a win, he said, and TCU will take it.
"It didn't turn out the way we expected or how we wanted it to but we came out with a win," Dawson said.
Senior cornerback Greg McCoy was named the game's defensive MVP after intercepting Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron's pass in the second quarter. McCoy's pick and subsequent return came with the Frogs trailing 10-3 and set the TCU offense up for a touchdown near the end of the half when running back Ed Wesley barreled in from seven yards out for a score with 26 seconds left in the second quarter.
Cameron threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns on a 21-of-43 passing and set a Poinsettia Bowl record for pass attempts.