SAN DIEGO – Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes got the sense that few people gave his Bulldogs a chance against No. 16 TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.
"If you asked most of the national media, they wouldn't know what state Louisiana Tech is in, probably," Dykes said.
The Bulldogs almost pulled off the upset, but Casey Pachall highlighted a record-setting game with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Skye Dawson with 4:26 left to lift the Horned Frogs to a 31-24 victory against Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl on Wednesday night.
It was the eighth straight victory for Mountain West Conference champion TCU (11-2), which moves to the Big 12 next year. It was the third time this season TCU overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to win, including a 36-35 victory at Boise State on Nov. 12, the Broncos' only loss.
Pachall was 15 of 29 for 206 yards. He set school single-season records with 228 completions, 2,921 yards and a completion percentage of 66.5, breaking marks previously held by Andy Dalton.
On the winning play, the sophomore took the snap in the shotgun and Dawson ran past safety Chad Boyd to pull in the long pass.
TCU is 3-0 in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Western Athletic Conference champion Louisiana Tech (8-5) had its seven-game winning streak snapped hours after Dykes agreed to a contract extension through 2017.
"This was an opportunity for us to put ourselves on the map a little bit," Dykes said. "I think we did that in some ways."
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 one yard on a completion from Pachall to Matthew Tucker to bring up a fourth-and-1 from the Bulldogs' 9-yard line. Tucker gained six yards for the first down. On third-and-goal from the 8, a pass interference call against the Bulldogs in the end zone gave TCU a first down on the 2. Shivers scored 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 Pachall on the Louisiana Tech 39-yard line. Three plays later, Myles White made a sensational over-the-shoulder catch of a 61-yard pass from Colby Cameron for a touchdown and a 24-17 lead.
"In a sense, you have a good feeling," White said. "But ultimately it's a negative feeling and it's going to leave a nasty taste in my mouth."
The teams traded field goals in the first half before Quinton Patton pulled in a 2-yard TD pass from Cameron. The play originally was ruled an incompletion, but was overturned after video review. Patton got one foot inbounds before tumbling out of the side of the end zone.
Late in the first half, TCU cornerback Greg McCoy jumped a route, intercepted Cameron and returned it 25 yards to the Bulldogs' 25. Four plays later, Ed Wesley ran 7 yards up the gut to tie the game at 10.
TCU had 190 yards rushing.