5:30 PM ET, November 11, 2006
University Stadium, ALBUQUERQUE, NM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- New Mexico was in the red zone and TCU's defense on its heels. Safety Brian Bonner kept telling his teammates someone had to make a play.
It turned out to be him.
Bonner's interception with 22 seconds left and defensive end Tommy Blake's first quarter 20-yard fumble return for a score were the big plays that helped TCU hold off New Mexico in a 27-21 win Saturday night.
Bonner's interception of a Chris Nelson pass sealed the win after TCU had nearly squandered a 24-0 halftime lead.
"We knew time was ticking down and somebody had to make a play or get a turnover," Bonner said. "That's what we were out there talking about. Somebody had to step up. The ball went through a couple of defenders' hands and landed up in my hands."
The Horned Frogs (7-2, 3-2 MWC), won their fourth straight and snapped New Mexico's (5-5, 3-3) three-game winning streak. TCU won despite getting just 192 total yards, including 25 yards passing from quarterback Jeff Ballard, who completed 6 of 16 passes.
New Mexico, which had rallied from double-digit deficits for wins over UNLV, Utah and Colorado State in its previous three games, got within 24-21 on a pair of third quarter touchdown runs by Rodney Ferguson and an 8-yard pass from backup quarterback Chris Nelson to Marcus Smith with 13:45 left in the game.
Ferguson scored on a 45-yard run with less than two minutes gone in the third quarter and added a 2-yard TD run with 52 seconds left in the quarter.
Chris Manfredini kicked a 37-yard field goal with 2:59 left to give the Frogs a 27-21 lead. New Mexico came right back and drove to the TCU 20 on a drive in which Nelson hit Smith with back-to-back passes for 22 and 38 yards. Two holding penalties pushed the Lobos back and on third-and-18, Nelson overthrew a Lobo receiver and Bonner picked it off.
"We knew they were going to be a second half team," said TCU coach Gary Patterson, a former assistant at New Mexico. "We turned the ball over on the kickoff and we started out drives four or five times inside the 15-yard line. They made great adjustments and on defense just started coming after us."
Patterson said Manfredini's field goal was huge.
"If we don't have that last field goal, they can drive and kick a field goal to tie the game," Patterson said. "Don't look prosperity in the face."
New Mexico coach Rocky Long agreed.
"Their field goal late in the game forced us to score a touchdown," Long said. "We probably could have scored a field goal after the second play by Marcus Smith, but we were in a position where we had to score a touchdown."
TCU, as it did last year in a 49-28 win over the Lobos in Fort Worth, took advantage of early New Mexico mistakes to build its halftime lead.
New Mexico starting quarterback Donovan Porterie fumbled the snap on the second play from scrimmage and Blake picked up the ball and took it in untouched.
"I saw the ball fumbled and it kept on rolling. I picked it up and ran. It was exciting to start out that way," said Blake. Blake said it was his first touchdown since his high school days as a running back in Arannas Pass, Texas.
The Frogs scored again after Bonner returned a punt 27 yards to the New Mexico 38. Five plays and a couple of personal foul calls on the Lobos later, Lonta Hobbs scored from the 2.
New Mexico had a chance to get back in it on its next possession with a drive that reached the TCU 16. But Porterie fumbled while trying to scramble and Rafael Priest beat a couple of Lobos to the ball near the sidelines.
Bonner set up the Frogs' third touchdown of the first half with a 22-yard punt return to the New Mexico 45. Hobbs gained 21 yards on first down and Aaron Brown then beat New Mexico's secondary to the outside to score from 24 yards out.
Peter LoCoco added a 44-yard field goal with 53 seconds left in the second quarter.
New Mexico was coming off a bye week and under Long was 9-0 after an off week. But this time the Lobos came out sluggish.
"My worse concerns were realized in the first half," Long said. "When you have a really young football team and they have a bye week and then you play a team that is as fast and as good as TCU is, they aren't ready for the speed of the game."
In TCU's win last year, the Frogs ran up a 28-0 first quarter lead by intercepting two passes and recovering a Lobo fumble.
Porterie, who was sacked 5 times, sprained his left ankle in the third quarter and was replaced by Nelson.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-13||5-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|TD||13:53||TOMMY BLAKE 12 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (CHRIS MANFREDINI KICK)||7||0|
|TD||8:15||LONTA HOBBS 2 YD RUN (CHRIS MANFREDINI KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 38 yards.
|TD||7:15||AARON BROWN 24 YD RUN (CHRIS MANFREDINI KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 45 yards.
|FG||0:53||PETER LOCOCO 44 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 29 yards.
|TD||12:47||RODNEY FERGUSON 45 YD RUN (KENNY BYRD KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 51 yards.
|TD||0:52||RODNEY FERGUSON 2 YD RUN (KENNY BYRD KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 47 yards.
|TD||13:45||MARCUS SMITH 8 YD PASS FROM CHRIS NELSON (KENNY BYRD KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 25 yards.
|FG||2:59||CHRIS MANFREDINI 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 4 yards.