Glendale, AZ (Sports Network) – Doug Martin scored the go-ahead touchdown with 7:21 remaining in the fourth quarter, as sixth-ranked Boise State held off a late charge by No. 3 TCU, to post a 17-10 victory in the Fiesta Bowl.
Kellen Moore threw for 211 yards on 23-of-39 attempts for the Broncos, who became the second team in NCAA history to notch a 14-0 record, joining the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes. Brandyn Thompson took home defensive MVP honors after picking off TCU quarterback Andy Dalton twice, returning one of the interceptions for a touchdown.
Boise State made its second appearance in a BCS game, the first a triple- overtime thriller over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. Boise State stunned the Sooners with a two-point conversion on a trick play. The Broncos went back to its bag of tricks in this contest, using a fake punt to keep the decisive drive alive.
The Broncos avenged a loss to TCU in last season’s Poinsetta Bowl and will now join either Alabama or Texas as the nation’s only unbeaten programs.
Dalton completed 25-of-44 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown, but threw three interceptions, the final one sealing the Horned Frogs’ (12-1) fate in the dying seconds. The junior quarterback had thrown just five INTs this season.
“The fake punt was a great call, three or four plays in the second half was the difference in the ball game,” said TCU head coach Gary Patterson. “I thought both teams played hard. We just came up short.”
Thompson’s second interception gave Boise State the ball at its own 22 early in the fourth quarter. The drive appeared to have stalled at the 33, with the Broncos lining up to punt the ball on 4th-and-9. But Boise State head coach Chris Petersen rolled the dice.
Kyle Brotzman took the direct snap and floated a pass over the middle to a wide open Kyle Efaw, who rumbled 29 yards to the TCU 38.
“Yeah, that’s a gutsy call. I’m glad it worked,” Efaw said. “Everyone did their job and we shifted out and they shifted out with it. So we knew it had a good chance.”
A 16-yard pass from Moore to Tommy Gallarda later in the possession set up a 1st-and-goal at the two. Martin charged into the end zone on the next play for a 17-10 Boise State lead.
Three consecutive incompletions by Dalton on the ensuing series led to a punt, but the Horned Frogs quickly got the ball back after their defense forced a three-and-out.
A 39-yard punt return by TCU’s Jeremy Kerley placed the ball at the BSU 31 with 5:37 remaining. The Horned Frogs nearly scored a touchdown on first down, but Antoine Hicks failed to secure the ball. Following a sack, Dalton completed a throw to Bart Johnson for seven yards, but his intended pass to Jimmy Young on 4th-and-6 fell incomplete.
Boise State advanced the ball to its own 44-yard line before Brotzman’s punt was downed at the TCU one. The Horned Frogs started their final drive with 1:06 showing on the clock. A 19-yard strike to Kerley set up a first down at the BSU 30, but Broncos safety Winston Venable reeled in a tipped ball on the next play to cement the win.
“If you look at the stats, a real, real evenly matched game,” Petersen said. “We were able to make a play or two and get the (win).”
Boise State’s defense delivered the first blow when Thompson stepped in front of Dalton’s intended target and sprinted 51 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead less with 11:28 to play in the first.
Brotzman, who missed a 36-yard field goal in the opening frame, drilled a 40- yarder with 8:02 remaining in the second quarter, but Dalton’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Clay trimmed the deficit to 10-7 with 49 seconds to go before halftime.
Following the break, TCU transformed a Martin fumble into a 29-yard Ross Evans field goal, tying the game with 3:42 left in the third quarter.
Efaw, who was named the offensive player of the game, had 75 yards on four receptions…Boise State’s Titus Young made a game-high eight catches for 72 yards…Martin was limited to 42 yards on 16 carries…TCU amassed just 36 yards on the ground…Dalton became the Horned Frogs’ all-time passing leader, breaking Max Knake’s mark of 7,370, set from 1992-95…TCU played in its first BCS game…Boise State improved to 6-4 all-time in bowl games…The Horned Frogs have an 11-13-1 record in bowl games.