Horned Frogs hold on for per­fect sea­son

Bat­ted two-point con­ver­sion seals win for No. 3 Texas Chris­tian

The Washington Post Sunday - - D3 - BY GREG BEACHAM

pasadena, calif.— Tex­as­Chris­tian won the Rose Bowl for all those schools that never even imag­ined they could get there.

Andy Dal­ton threw a touch­down pass and ran for a score and linebacker Tank Carder swat­ted downa two-point con­ver­sion pass at­tempt with two min­utes to play as the third-rankedHorned Frogs com­pleted a per­fect sea­son with a 21-19 vic­tory overNo. 4 Wis­con­sin on Satur­day.

Bart John­son caught an early touch­down pass and re­cov­ered a late on­side kick for the Moun­tain West cham­pion Horned Frogs (13-0), who fol­lowed up their sec­ond straight un­beaten reg­u­lar sea­son by bust­ing the BCS in dra­matic fashion at the Rose Bowl.

Dal­ton passed for 219 yards for TCU, which won’t win the na­tional ti­tle — that will go to ei­ther Auburn or Ore­gon af­ter they meet in the BCS cham­pi­onship game in nine days.

These fe­ro­cious Frogs still proved they can play with any­body on col­lege foot­ball’s biggest stages.

“I’ve been say­ing for a while that par­ity in col­lege foot­ball is here,” TCU Coach Gary Pat­ter­son said. “I got texts from ev­ery­body across the nation, from Boise State and schools all over. ... To­daywe played for us, and for all the schools that wanted a chance.”

Mon­tee Ball rushed for 132 yards and a late score for the Big Ten co-cham­pion Bad­gers (11-2), whose loss capped a night­mare New Year’s Day for their con­fer­ence. The BigTen­went0-5 in­bowl games Satur­day, and the Bad­gers fell just short of a late rally when Carder made a de­fen­sive play that will live for­ever in TCU lore.

TCU lost last year’s Fi­esta Bowl to Boise State, but that’s still the only loss of the past two sea­sons for Pat­ter­son’s re­mark­able Fort Worth power. TCU is the first school from a non-au­to­matic qual­i­fy­ing con­fer­ence to play in the Rose Bowl since the ad­vent of the BCS, but the Frogs were right at home in Pasadena.

Luke Shivers’s one-yard touch­down run put TCU ahead 21-13 early in the third quar­ter, but nei­ther team scored again un­til Wis­con­sin mounted a 77-yard drive in the wan­ing min­utes. Mon­tee Ball rushed for a four­yard score with two min­utes to play, but Carder made a per­fectly timed leap at the line to bat down Scot­tTolzien’s throw. Ja­cobPed­er­sen was open in the end zone, but the ball never got close to the Wis­con­sin tight end.

John­son eas­ily grabbed Wis­con­sin’s on­side kick, and TCU rushed for a fi­nal first down to kill the clock.

Pat­ter­son stopped his play­ers from dump­ing a Ga­torade bucket on him be­fore time ran out, lec­tur­ing them with a smile on his face. When the fi­nal sec­onds ticked off, the Frogs ran about the field in a frenzy, even­tu­ally col­lect­ing near theTCUban­dandthe quar­ter of the Rose Bowl stands filled with pur­ple-clad fans.

And even­tu­ally the Frogs doused their coach, too.

Dal­ton went 15 for 23 and rushed for a first-quar­ter score, win­ning the game’s of­fen­sive MVP award. But the de­fense de­served the credit for hang­ing on when TCU couldn’t score in the game’s fi­nal 26 min­utes.

Af­ter a litany of big plays that in­cluded a de-cleat­ing sack of Tolzien to kill a third-quar­ter drive, Carder was the leader all game— and the man at the end.

“I saw him cock his arm back, and I jumped up and swat­ted it away,” Carder said. “I was in the right place at the right time. They al­most [wore us down], but we pulled it out at the end. It seems like we got a lit­tle bit bet­ter to­ward the end.”

TCU’s de­fense led the nation in sev­eral cat­e­gories this sea­son, but crit­ics said the Frogs hadn’t faced the likes of Wis­con­sin’s fear­some of­fen­sive line. The Bad­gers were dom­i­nant at times, par­tic­u­larly in a fre­netic first quar­ter that fea­tured 24 com­bined points, but TCU hung on against Wis­con­sin’s at­tack with guts, third-down stops and a few for­tu­nate plays— none big­ger than Carder’s leap.

JEFF GROSS/GETTY IM­AGES

TCU

21

WIS­CON­SIN

19

Bart John­son and Texas Chris­tian im­proved to 25-1 over the last two sea­sons by beat­ing Wis­con­sin.

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