Leaving their mark
TCU tattoos East Carolina in Mobile Alabama Bowl
Posted: Thursday December 23, 1999 01:31 PM
Chad Bayer of TCU drops East Carolina QB David Garrard for a loss. AP
OBILE, Ala. (AP) -- It's too bad Texas Christian can't speed up its move to Conference USA.
After a convincing 28-14 victory over No. 20 East Carolina Wednesday night in the inaugural Mobile Alabama Bowl, the Horned Frogs believed they were ready to move on to bigger things.
It will have to wait a year, though. TCU, currently a member of the Western Athletic Conference, isn't scheduled to join East Carolina in C-USA until 2001.
"Maybe we should go in next year," TCU coach Dennis Franchione said. "But it feels good to know when we do go, we'll be going in on pretty good footing."
LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns to lead TCU.
It was the second consecutive bowl upset for TCU (8-4), which knocked off heavily-favored Southern Cal in last year's Sun Bowl. East Carolina (9-3) was favored by six points at game time.
And it was the first time the Horned Frogs have won consecutive bowl games since winning three in a row from 1936-39.
"It means a lot to our team and to our seniors who two years ago were 1-10 -- it's pretty amazing," Franchione said. "I hope it gives us some national respect."
East Carolina coach Steve Logan said he thought TCU had earned it.
"They can play with anybody," Logan said. "And anybody in our conference. I know that now."
TCU confused East Carolina early with its two-quarterback option attack and completely shut down the Pirates' running game, holding them to minus-16 yards.
"Our defense played great," Franchione said. "That was really the key."
So was countering East Carolina's plan of stopping Tomlinson, whose 1,850 yards edged Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne for the NCAA Division I rushing title.
TCU, which alternated between quarterbacks Casey Printers and Patrick Batteaux, made it impossible for the Pirates to adjust.
Early in the first quarter, Printers gained seven yards on an option run to move TCU to the 2. Batteaux, a senior who runs the option better than Printers, came in on the next play and pitched the ball to Tomlinson, who ran in for the touchdown. That tied the game at 7-7 and TCU slowly pulled away from there.
The trio set up another touchdown the same way in the second quarter. Printers threw a 9-yard pass to Tomlinson and Batteaux came in on the next play and gained 35 yards on an option keeper that put TCU at the 19.
Tomlinson carried on four plays, finally scoring from three yards with 51 seconds left in the half. It gave the Horned Frogs a 21-7 halftime lead.
"I knew they were keying on me so the yards came hard," said Tomlinson, who TCU plans to promote for the Heisman Trophy next season. "At first, I could only get eight yards here, four yards there, and they were tough. But they came and I'm happy with the outcome."
East Carolina, which couldn't run the ball at all against TCU, had to go to the air in the second half.
It initially worked, as David Garrard moved the Pirates down the field, setting up Jaimie Wilson's 13-yard touchdown run that made it 21-14 with 4:30 to play in the third quarter.
The Pirates' Forrest Foster then recovered an on-side kick, but TCU's defense held.
On the first play of East Carolina's next possession, Russell Garry intercepted Garrard's pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. That gave TCU a 28-14 lead with 14:04 to play.
"They scored 21 and that's doable against our defense," Logan said. "But that interception put it away. It was a good throw, David did the right thing, but it was one of those things."
Printers, a freshman who started nine games after Batteaux went down with an injury, threw a 21-yard second-quarter touchdown pass to Mike Scarborough.
He finished 13-of-19 for 174 yards and ran for 24, earning the game's most valuable player award.
Batteaux ran six times for 37 yards.
East Carolina, which came into the game averaging 170 yards on the ground and 406 overall, was held to 223 total yards.
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